In Nevada, NRS 200.010 defines murder as the unlawful killing of a person with either implied or express malice aforethought. A defendant acted with malice aforethought if they took action with the deliberate intention of unlawfully ending the life of another human being. Murder is charged in the first or second degree, depending upon the factors involved in the alleged offense. However, homicides that occur by accident or unintentional purposes may be charged as manslaughter.
If you or a loved one is facing murder- or homicide-related charges, a Las Vegas murder defense attorney from De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers wants to review your case. Our law firm helps protect the rights of our defendants who plead not guilty to murder charges. We can manage your case and guide you throughout the criminal justice process so that your story is heard.
Different Types of Murder and Homicide Cases in Las Vegas, Nevada
In Nevadan criminal law, the following charges exist for murder and homicide:
#1. First Degree Murder
Per NRS 200.030, murder is charged in the first degree if the Las Vegas homicide was:
- Perpetrated through the use of poison, torture or lying in wait, or any other kind of premeditated, willful, and deliberate killing;
- Committed in the midst of perpetrating such crimes as sexual assault, sexual abuse or molestation of a child, child abuse or abuse of an older or vulnerable person, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, home invasion, or arson;
- Committed in order to avoid the lawful arrest of any person or to enable any person to escape from legal custody;
- Committed on the property of a school, school bus, or at an event or activity sponsored by a school, and with the intent to cause substantial bodily harm or death to more than one person through the use of a weapon, device, or action that is hazardous; or
- Committed or attempted as an act of terrorism.
Any premeditated intention to kill another person would generally fall under first degree murder charges. This offense is the most serious level of murder, which can lead to harsh penalties such as life in prison or even the death sentence.
If you are facing first degree murder charges, having a Las Vegas murder defense lawyer defend you may help you show discrepancies in the prosecutor’s argument or evidence presented. Our team understands the stakes are high in murder-related cases, so we aim to collect and present as much evidence as possible to defend you.
#2. Second Degree Murder
In Las Vegas, murder in the second degree is charged when the defendant acted in a manner that was so reckless that they should have foreseen that death would result. Second degree murder is essentially all other kinds of murder that do not fall under first degree murder.
Some common examples of offenses that might lead to second degree murder charges include:
- Playing games that put people’s safety and their potential lives at risk, such as Russian roulette
- Firing a gun in the air, which then causes someone to die once the bullet falls back down
- Setting off fireworks at an unsafe distance, causing someone to get killed in the explosion
While a defendant might claim they had no intention to murder anyone, they may be held accountable if the jury believes the results of their actions would lead to foreseeable endangerment. The attorney would have to prove that the defendant was unaware that their actions could potentially cause someone to die.
#3. Third Degree Murder
Nevada law does not recognize third degree murder as a legitimate offense. This type of murder charge is generally still accepted in three states: Florida, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. To compare, third degree murder is similar to manslaughter charges, which are recognized under Nevada law.
NRS 200.040 defines manslaughter as the “unlawful killing of a human being” that occurred:
- Without any intention to end the person’s life, meaning no malice or premeditated plans to kill existed
- Voluntarily, whether as a result of being provoked or during the heat of the moment in an altercation; or involuntarily if the defendant allegedly committed an unlawful act that they did not realize would cause someone else’s death
Manslaughter charges do not include vehicle manslaughter, where a death occurred as a result of a vehicle collision.
#5. Capital Murder
Capital murder is considered first degree murder. However, with this charge, the offense also involves an aggravating circumstance that largely outweighs any other mitigating circumstances that might have lessened the charge. Per NRS 200.033, aggravating circumstances may include:
- Murder of a child, particularly if sexual abuse is involved in the case
- Murder involving torture
- Murder that occurs while serving a prison sentence
- Murder that occurs in an effort to prevent an arrest or being held under custody
- Murdering a firefighter or peace officer who was fulfilling their work duties
- Murder that occurs at random or that seem to lack motive
- Murder that occurs as a result of a hate crime, meaning the motive involved negative feelings toward someone’s race, sexuality, gender, religion, mental or physical disability, or some other protected class trait
Juries may judge other aggravating circumstances as severe enough to qualify for capital murder. In doing so, capital punishment (i.e., the death penalty) may serve as punishment to the defendant.
#6. Vehicular Manslaughter and Homicide
NRS 484B.657 defines vehicular manslaughter, also known as vehicular homicide, as any death that occurs as a result of a person operating a vehicle. Vehicular manslaughter can occur because of:
- Reckless driving
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Distracted driving, such as texting while driving or eating/drinking while driving
- Aggressive driving or road rage
If convicted of this charge, a person may face misdemeanor charges. However, if the person has a history of other offenses, the person may face felony charges.
Penalties for Murder in Nevada
Depending on the circumstances involved in your alleged offense, if convicted of first degree murder you could be sentenced to either:
- Life in state prison without parole;
- Life in state prison with the possibility of parole after serving 20 years;
- 50 years in state prison with the possibility of parole after serving 20 years.
If convicted of second degree murder, you will face reduced sentencing, including either:
- Life in state prison with the possibility of parole after serving 10 years; or
- 25 years in state prison with the possibility of parole after serving 10 years.
In light of the serious consequences imposed for murder, it is imperative that you have an aggressive Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer on your side who can effectively challenge your charges.
Understanding the Severity of a Potential Death Sentence
If you are facing first degree murder charges involving an aggravating circumstance, you should understand that your life may be on the line for your case. Hiring a Nevada criminal defense lawyer from De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers may give you more insight into how your case should be framed to discredit evidence used against you or put you in a better light for the jury.
Our attorneys may question on whether you have any mitigating circumstances that could reduce your charges, such as whether you grew up in an abusive home, have active and loving relationships with your family and loved ones, or have a history of volunteer work and contributing to your community. Still, even with factors that might paint you in a better light, an aggravating circumstance could change the course of your case.
Our attorneys have served people in Nevada for decades, so we understand the consequences some of our clients face for murder-related charges. A death sentence obviously means your life would end, but it might also mean that your family would have to fend for themselves after your passing and any broken ties or other problems in your life would remain unresolved. Our team wants to help you win your case, so do not give up before your case begins.
Our Homicide Defense Lawyers in Las Vegas Can Help You Fight for Your Rights
Our attorneys offer a variety of services to our clients in criminal defense cases, including:
- Our team will call you to update you on your case, whether we have updates on new court hearing dates, potential witnesses for your case, and other key information we discover when investigating your case.
- We will conduct a separate investigation from the police to confirm key details of your case, such as where the alleged murder took place, whether any video footage or eyewitness captured the events, and whether all details recounted are accurate
- Our attorneys will offer legal advice if you would like guidance on how to proceed with your case, such as whether you should accept a plea deal to avoid receiving a harsh sentence (e.g., capital punishment) or continue with a trial because you have evidence to back up your claims.
- Our attorneys will represent you in trial or out-of-court hearings to present your case, advocate for your rights during arrest and custody, and convince a judge and jury to reduce or dismiss your charges.
Choose the Skilled Advocacy of De Castroverde Law Group
Our Las Vegas firm was founded by brothers Alex De Castroverde and Orlando De Castroverde, and we treat every client like a member of the family. We understand the gravity of your situation, and you can be confident that we will protect your rights and tirelessly pursue the best possible outcome of your case. A Las Vegas murder lawyer has experience defending clients against violent crime charges, and we can provide the relentless advocacy you need and deserve.
To discuss your case and learn about your defense options, contact De Castroverde Law Group!