Murder/Homicide Charges in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Murder Defense Attorneys

Murder or Homicide charges are frequently brought by the Clark County District Attorney’s Office. Las Vegas has the dubious distinction of having a disproportionate amount of homicides for a mid-sized city. This means that at least one - usually there are several - high profile murder cases are being tried in the Las Vegas Regional Justice Center at any one time.

In Nevada, there are two common types of murder charges: First Degree Murder, and Second Degree Murder. It is important that anyone charged with either of these Homicide offenses obtain the services of a top-flight criminal defense lawyer. Both offenses potentially carry life-sentences and hiring the correct lawyer is an essential step in protecting your freedom.

If you are facing accusations of murder, receive a free, confidential evaluation with Oronoz Ericsson & Gaffney LLC today.

First Degree Murder

Nevada Revised Statute NRS 200.030 in relevant part provides that: “Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being: with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought can also be thought of as a person having the deliberate intention of unlawfully killing another human being. While there are other theories of liability for First Degree Murder outlined in the statute, sections (a) and (b) below are the way the overwhelming majority of First Degree Murder cases are charged in Nevada.

1. Murder in the first degree is murder which is:
(a) Perpetrated by means of poison, lying in wait or torture, or by any other kind of willful, deliberate and premeditated killing;
(b) Committed 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 14 years, child abuse or abuse of an older person or vulnerable person.

Subsection (a): Willfulness, Deliberation, and Premeditation

These three elements are what distinguish First Degree Murder from other types of unlawful homicide. All three of them must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt in order for a person to be convicted of First Degree Murder.

1. Willfulness has been defined by Nevada Courts as “the intent to kill.” It is important to note that under Nevada law there need be “no appreciable space of time between the intent to kill and the act of killing.” Think of “willful” as being synonymous with “intentional.”

2. Deliberation is the process of determining to kill a human being after thinking about it, weighing the reasons for and against the action, and considering the consequences of the action. Deliberation can be done quickly, but it cannot be a rash impulse. Rash impulses to kill do not qualify as deliberate.

3. Premeditation is a design, a determination to kill, which is distinctly formed in the mind by the time of the killing. Premeditation “may be as instantaneous as successive thoughts of the mind.” This element involves the exercise of reflection, judgement and decision.

Subsection (b): Felony Murder Rule

The other way a person can be charged with First Degree Murder in Nevada is under a felony murder theory of liability. The felony murder rule essentially holds that a homicide which results during the perpetration or attempted perpetration of one of the enumerated felonies listed in 200.030 1. (b) will be treated as First Degree Murder. This rule relies upon a legal fiction – that the intent to commit one of the enumerated felonies listed in the statute provides the malice required for murder. Another way to think of the concept is that malice is implied by the intention to commit the underlying felony.

Therefore a person who has no desire to kill another person but nevertheless either succeeds or attempts an act of sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery, burglary, etcetera, and an unexpected death occurs during the commission or the attempted commission of the crime, will be liable for that death under a theory of First Degree Murder. The intent to commit the predicate felony provides the intent to commit the underlying murder. Perhaps the most common example of felony murder liability is the situation in which a getaway driver (who stays in the car) for a robbery of a convenience store is charged with murder when his cohort shoots and kills the store clerk inside the store during the robbery.

Second Degree Murder

Second degree murder is defined by statute as all other types of murder. Most Second Degree Murders involve fact patterns in which the person who kills another, does so rashly, without deliberation. Situations in which a person acts out of sudden passion and kills are also classic Second Degree Murder scenarios.

Nevada Murder Penalties

First Degree Murder is the only crime under which the death penalty may be imposed. However capital cases require the existence of certain aggravating factors and are fairly rare.

Non-capital First Degree Murder cases are subject to the following range of punishment:

  1. For Life without parole;
  2. For life with the possibility of parole, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 20 years has been served; or
  3. For a definite term of 50 years, with eligibility for parole beginning when a minimum of 20 years has been served.

Second Degree Murder is subject to the following range of punishment:

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

Hiring Oronoz Ericsson & Gaffney LLC to Defend Your Murder Case is the Right Choice

Why choose to work with us? The answer is simple:

  • We have won murder charges by having Las Vegas juries return complete not guilty verdicts in First Degree Murder cases
  • We have had murder cases dismissed
  • We have negotiated First Degree Murder cases to sentences of probation with no prison time served

Our results speak for themselves. We have worked hard to achieve these results and have the evidence to back up our claims. Steps need to be taken immediately to maximize your chances of success. Do not make the mistake of putting your fate in the hands of someone who has never won these types of violent crime cases. There is too much at stake. We know what to do in these situations and are eager to assist you or your loved one in defending your freedom.

If you or a loved one is charged with murder in Las Vegas, call us as soon as possible for a free consultation.

Oronoz, Ericsson & Gaffney LLC

We Will Work Tirelessly In Order To Win Your Case

Send My Information