Felony Murder in Nevada: What You Need to Know About Nevada’s Felony Murder Rule
In Nevada, felony murder is defined as a homicide that occurs during the commission of a felony. Under this law, any person who participates in a felony and causes the death of another person can be charged with felony murder.
This law applies even if the death was accidental or unintentional. For example, if someone robs a store and a customer is killed during the robbery, the robber can be charged with felony murder.
The penalties for felony murder are severe. A conviction can result in a prison sentence of life without the possibility of parole. In this post, we’ll explain what felony murder is and the penalties associated with this crime.
If you have been charged with felony murder or any violent crimes, it is essential to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and your legal options.
What Is Felony Murder in Nevada?
Under Nevada law, felony murder is a type of homicide that occurs during the commission of a felony. Below are some examples of felonies that can lead to a felony murder charge:
- NRS 200.320: Kidnapping
- NRS 200.366: Sexual assault
- NRS 200.380: Robbery
- NRS 200.508: Child abuse
- NRS 200.5099: Abuse of a vulnerable person
- NRS: 200.5099: Abuse of an older person
- NRS 205.010 – 025: Arson
- NRS 205.060: Burglary
- NRS 205.067: Invasion of the home
- Sexual abuse of a child
- NRS 201.030: Sexual molestation of a child below 14 years
The first thing to understand is that felony murder is not the same as first-degree murder. In order to be convicted of first-degree murder, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to kill someone.
However, felony murder only requires that the death occurred during the commission of a felony. This means that even if the defendant did not intend to kill anyone, they can still be convicted if someone dies during the course of a robbery, burglary, or other felonies.
What Are the Penalties for Felony Murder
The penalties for felony murder are:
- Death; or
- Life without the possibility of parole in a Nevada State Prison; or
- A life sentence in a Nevada State Prison with the possibility of parole after a minimum of 20 years has been served; or
- A definite sentence of 50 years in a Nevada State Prison with the possibility of parole after a minimum of 20 years has been served.
How to Fight Felony Murder Charges
Felony murder is a serious charge that can result in a lengthy prison sentence, even if the defendant did not kill anyone. If you have been charged with felony murder, it is important to understand the charge and how to fight it.
Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to assert that you did not commit the underlying felony, that you were not acting with the intent to kill, or that you were acting under duress.
If you can prove that you were protecting yourself from bodily harm, then the homicide charges against you can be dropped. However, this only applies if your actions were reasonable, under the circumstances.
Felony murder is triggered when someone dies as an actual consequence of the underlying crime. If the death involved did not flow from the underlying crime, then the felony murder rule does not apply. This is a difficult defense to prove, as it relies on showing that the death had nothing to do with the underlying crime. For example, Joe commits suicide in his house by shooting himself. The next day, a burglar breaks into Jim’s house to steal a laptop. A police officer sees the break-in and arrests the burglar. The burglar is charged with felony murder for killing Jim while committing burglary. However, when the burglar’s defense attorney hires forensic experts who demonstrate that Jim died before the thief ever entered the home and that the cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot, the district attorney may reduce felony murder charges to burglary because the intruder had no responsibility for Jim’s death.
If your lawyer can prove that the police officers investigating your case broke procedure, such as through an illegal search or contaminating evidence, then that evidence will be suppressed and can’t be used against you. If there isn’t enough remaining evidence to convict you after some of it has been suppressed, then the charges against you may be dropped entirely.
If you have been charged with felony murder, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your charges and develop a strong defense strategy.
Can Felony Murder Charges Be Reduced or Dropped
Yes, felony murder charges can be reduced or dropped in certain circumstances. For example, if the prosecution can’t prove that you intended to kill someone or that the death occurred during the course of a felony, then the felony murder charges against you may be reduced to manslaughter.
Additionally, if your lawyer can successfully challenge the evidence against you or prove that you were acting in self-defense or any of the other defenses stated above, then the felony murder charges may be dropped entirely.
How Do I Get My Felony Murder Criminal Records Sealed?
A felony murder conviction can have a major impact on your life, making it difficult to find a job, housing, or get a professional license. If you have been convicted of felony murder, you may be able to get your criminal records sealed.
In Nevada, you can file a petition to seal your felony murder criminal records after ten years, which is the waiting period for a category A felony. However, defendants sentenced to life in prison can’t have their records sealed.
It’s also important to note that if your case is dismissed, according to NRS 179.255, you can petition to seal your records immediately.
Understanding Parole in Nevada and How it Works
If you have been convicted of felony murder, one outcome is to be sentenced to prison with the possibility of parole after at least 20 years.
The parole board will consider a number of factors when deciding whether or not to grant parole, including the nature of the crime, the inmate’s criminal history, the inmate’s behavior while incarcerated, and other factors.
If you are granted parole, you will be released from prison but will still be under the supervision of a parole officer and will be required to follow certain conditions, such as meeting with your parole officer on a regular basis, maintaining employment, and not leaving a specific geographic area without permission. You can learn more about how paroles work in Nevada here.
Arrested for Felony Murder Charges?
If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with felony murder in Nevada, contact The Defenders at 702-333-3333 for a free consultation. We understand how serious felony murder charges are and will aggressively defend your rights and fight to get the best possible outcome in your case.