Murder – Homicide NRS 200.010

Being charged with murder is as serious as it gets in the criminal justice system.  Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought, either expressed or implied.  Nevada classifies murder into 2 degrees, murder in the first degree, and murder of the second degree.

Murder In the 1st Degree

Murder in the 1st degree is murder which is:

  • Perpetrated by means of poison, lying in wait or torture, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate and premeditated killing;
  • Committed in the preparation in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of sexual assault, kidnapping, arson, robbery, burglary, invasion of the home, sexual abuse of a child, sexual molestation of a child under the age of 14 years, child abuse or abuse of an older person or vulnerable person pursuant to NRS 200.5099.  (This is considered felony murder);
  • Committed to avoid or prevent the lawful arrest of any person by a peace officer or to effect the escape of any person from legal custody;
  • Committed on the property of a public or private school, at an activity sponsored by a public or private school or on a school bus while the bus was engaged in its official duties by a person who intended to create a great risk of death or substantial bodily harm to more than one person by means of a weapon, device or course of action that would normally be hazardous to the lives of more than one person; or
  • Committed in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of an act of terrorism.

If convicted of murder in the 1st degree, one will be charged with a category A felony and shall be punished:

  • By death, only if one or more aggravating circumstances are found and any mitigating circumstance or circumstances which are found do not outweigh the aggravating circumstance or circumstances, unless a court has made a finding pursuant to NRS 174.098 that the defendant is a person with an intellectual disability and has stricken the notice of intent to seek the death penalty; or
  • By imprisonment in the state prison:
    • For life without the possibility of parole;
    • For life with the possibility of parole, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 20 years has been served; or
    • For a definite term of 50 years, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 20 years has been served.

Murder In the 2nd Degree

Murder of the 2nd degree is all other kinds of murder.  Think of this as when a killer acts with a reckless disregard for human life amounting to “an abandoned and malignant heart.”

A person convicted of murder of the 2nd degree is still charged with a category A felony, but the death penalty is not an option and parole eligibility starts sooner.  A person convicted of murder in the 2nd degree shall be punished and imprisoned:

  • For life with the possibility of parole, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 10 years has been served; or
  • For a definite term of 25 years, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 10 years has been served.

If the victim survives, this will not be a defense to murder.  The state can still charge you with Attempt Murder.  If a person acts with the intent to commit murder, and tending but fails to accomplish the murder, it is considered an attempt to commit that crime (murder).  In the case of murder, which is a category A felony, if found guilty of attempt murder, one will be charged with a category B felony and imprisoned not less than 2 years and a maximum term not more than 20 years. 

As you can see, any charge a murder is a serious offense, so serious that you may face the death penalty in some circumstances.  The state still has to meet its burden of proof, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which a skilled defense attorney will hold the state to this burden during trial.  Also pretrial motions based of certain rights violation may suppress evidence and help your case, or if the homicide was justifiable, i.e. self-defense, then one may not be charged with murder.