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Understanding Common Legal Defenses in Nevada

A Simple Guide to How Defense Attorneys in Las Vegas Protect Your Rights

In the city of Las Vegas and throughout the state of Nevada, defense attorneys play a vital role. They help people who are accused of crimes to defend their rights. But how do they do it? Let’s break down some common legal defenses used in Nevada.

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The Alibi Defense

The word “alibi” is Latin for “somewhere else.” If someone is accused of a crime, one way to defend against the accusation is to prove they were somewhere else when the crime happened. This is called an “alibi defense”.

For example, if you were having dinner with friends during the crime, your friends could testify in court to prove your alibi.

The Self-Defense Claim

In some cases, a person might have used force to protect themselves. If they are charged with a violent crime like assault, they can argue that they were acting in self-defense.

This means they had a reason to believe they were in danger and used only as much force as necessary to protect themselves.

The Insanity Defense

The insanity defense is rare, but it does happen. This defense means that the accused person was not in the right mind when the crime occurred. They didn’t understand what they were doing was wrong. This complex defense needs a lot of proof, like medical and psychiatric records.

The Consent Defense

Sometimes, a person might be accused of theft or trespassing, but they had the other person’s permission. In this case, they can claim consent as a defense. They need to prove that the alleged victim had permitted them.

Scales of justice with the U.S. Constitution in the background.

The Constitutional Rights Defense

Every person in America has rights under the U.S. Constitution. If the police or court does something that violates these rights, it can be used as a defense.

For example, if the police searched a person’s home without a warrant or proper consent, any evidence found may not be used in court.

The Entrapment Defense

Entrapment happens when law enforcement officers persuade someone to commit a crime they would not typically commit. If an officer pushes a person into committing a crime, they may be able to use the entrapment defense.

However, this defense can be tricky because it can’t be used if the person was ready to commit the crime and the police just gave them the opportunity.

The Mistake of Law Defense

Sometimes, a person might not know what they did was against the law. Sometimes, they can argue a “mistake of law” defense. However, this defense isn’t used often because ignorance of the law is usually not considered a good excuse.

A ship navigating a storm, symbolizing navigating legal challenges using the necessity defense

The Necessity Defense

The necessity defense is used when a person commits a crime to prevent more significant harm.

For example, if someone breaks into a building to save a person from a fire, they might use the necessity defense to argue that they had no other choice.

The Mistake of Fact Defense

A “mistake of fact” defense is used when a person misunderstands some facts that led to their illegal action.

For instance, if someone took someone else’s bag thinking it was their own, they might use this defense.

The Intoxication Defense

In some cases, a person might argue that they were too intoxicated to understand their actions. This defense is not often successful, mainly if the person chooses to get drunk. However, it might be used if a person was drugged without their knowledge.

The Duress Defense

Duress is a situation where a person commits a crime because they are forced or threatened by someone else. In such cases, the duress defense can be used.

For instance, if a person was threatened with severe harm or death unless they committed a crime, they could use this defense.

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The Double Jeopardy Defense

Double Jeopardy is a term that means being tried twice for the same crime. The U.S. Constitution protects people from this situation.

So, if a person has been acquitted (found not guilty) of a crime, they can use the double jeopardy defense if someone tries to put them on trial for the same crime again.

The Statute of Limitations Defense

Most crimes have a “statute of limitations,” which means there is a specific time limit to bring charges against someone. If this time limit passes, a person can use the statute of limitations as a defense.

For example, if a person is accused of a theft that happened ten years ago, they might be able to use this defense, depending on the laws of Nevada.

The Infancy Defense

In Nevada, children under a certain age are considered incapable of committing a crime. This is known as the infancy defense. The age limit varies, but it’s generally used for children under 14.

The Automatism Defense

Automatism is when people act without knowing what they’re doing, like sleepwalking. If a person commits a crime during an episode of automatism, they might be able to use this defense. It’s a rare defense and requires a lot of proof.

Puppet on strings, symbolizing the feeling of being manipulated, relevant to the coercion defense

The Coercion Defense

Similar to duress, coercion involves a person being forced into committing a crime, but it usually involves psychological pressure rather than physical threat. If someone is manipulated or coerced into committing a crime, they may use coercion as a defense.

The Abandonment/Withdrawal Defense

This defense can be used when a person initially planned to be part of a crime but decided to pull out before the crime was committed. They must have not only abandoned the plan but also tried to prevent the crime from happening.

The Involuntary Intoxication Defense

While voluntary intoxication is rarely successful as a defense, involuntary intoxication is different. If someone was drugged without their knowledge and committed a crime as a result, they might use the automatic intoxication defense.

The Impossibility Defense

This defense is used when a person is accused of attempting a crime that was impossible to carry out. There are two types: factual impossibility (the crime could not possibly have been committed) and legal impossibility (the action was not indeed a crime).

The Provocation Defense

In some cases, a person may be provoked into committing a crime. This defense doesn’t excuse the crime but may reduce the severity of the charges. It’s often used in cases involving crimes of passion, where a highly emotional event provoked the person.

Person erasing a blackboard, symbolizing the correction of an honest mistake.

The Honest Mistake Defense

Sometimes, an individual may commit a crime based on a genuine, honest mistake. This defense is used when a person has a good faith belief that their actions were legal.

For example, if a person bought stolen goods without knowing they were stolen, they might use the honest mistake defense.

The Defense of Property

The defense of property is used when a person commits a crime to protect their property. This could be used if someone is charged with assault after they were trying to prevent a burglar from robbing their home.

The Defense of Others

Like self-defense, the defense of others is used when a person commits a crime to protect someone from imminent harm.

For example, if a person comes to the aid of someone being attacked and injures the attacker, they could use this defense.

Lightning bolt striking a tree, symbolizing an act of God

The Act of God Defense

This defense is used when a person commits a crime due to uncontrollable, natural forces, such as a hurricane or earthquake. This defense is very rare and used only in extreme circumstances.

The Sovereign Immunity Defense

Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that protects the government from being sued without consent. This defense is usually used by government employees accused of crimes committed during their jobs.

The Accident Defense

Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine that protects the government from being sued without consent. This defense is usually used by government employees accused of crimes committed during their jobs.

Why You Have Not Hired a Felony Defense Attorney Yet

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Breaking It All Down for You

Nevada’s legal defenses can be complex, ranging from entrapment and mistake of law to defenses like coercion, double jeopardy, and necessity. Each defense is unique and requires a skilled attorney to employ it in a court of law effectively.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of a defense attorney in a criminal case?

A defense attorney’s primary role is to protect the rights of the accused, present evidence to support their client’s defense, cross-examine prosecution witnesses, and guide their client through the legal process.

What does “presumed innocent until proven guilty” mean?

This principle means that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. The defendant doesn’t have to prove their innocence; instead, it’s the prosecution’s responsibility to verify the defendant’s guilt.

What is the difference between the mistake of law and the mistake of fact defenses?

A mistake of law defense is used when a defendant is unaware that their action was illegal. A mistake of fact defense is used when a defendant misunderstands or is mistaken about some facts that led to the alleged crime.

Can ignorance of the law be used as a defense?

Generally, ignorance of the law is not an acceptable defense. However, it may be used in rare circumstances if a person is genuinely unaware of a specific law or regulation.

What does the double jeopardy defense mean?

Double jeopardy is a principle that protects individuals from being tried twice for the same crime. If a person has been acquitted of a crime, they can’t be tried again for the same offense.

Are there defenses that children in Nevada can use?

The infancy defense is used for children under a certain age, generally under 14 years old. It’s based on the premise that children of a certain age cannot commit a crime.

What is coercion in the context of legal defenses?

Coercion involves a person being psychologically pressured into committing a crime. If someone is manipulated or coerced into committing a crime, they may use coercion as a defense.

Can natural disasters be used as a defense in a criminal case?

Yes, the Act of God defense is used when a person commits a crime due to uncontrollable, natural forces, such as a hurricane or earthquake. It’s a rare defense used only in extreme circumstances.

Can a person use a defense if they commit a crime to protect themselves or others?

Yes, the self-defense, defense of others, and defense of property justifications can be used if a person commits a crime to protect themselves, someone else, or their property from harm.

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Glossary

Automatism Defense: A legal defense used when someone commits a crime while unconscious or semi-conscious. It’s a rare defense and requires substantial proof.

Coercion: A defense used when a person is manipulated or pressured psychologically into committing a crime.

Double Jeopardy: A legal principle that protects individuals from being tried twice for the same crime.

Duress: A defense used when a person commits a crime under the threat of imminent harm.

Entrapment: A defense used when law enforcement officials induce a person to commit a crime they would not typically commit.

Infancy Defense: A defense used for children under a certain age, generally under 14 years old, based on the belief that children of a certain age are incapable of committing a crime.

Mistake of Law: A defense used when a person is unaware that their action is illegal.

Mistake of Fact: A defense is used when a person misunderstands or is mistaken about some facts that lead to the alleged crime.

Necessity Defense: A defense used when a person commits a crime to prevent more significant harm.

Presumption of Innocence: A principle that means the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and it’s the prosecution’s responsibility to verify the defendant’s guilt.

Self-Defense: A defense used when a person commits a crime to protect themselves from imminent harm.

Sovereign Immunity: A legal doctrine that prevents the government from being sued without consent.

Unconsciousness Defense: Similar to the automatism defense, this defense applies when a person commits a crime while unconscious or semi-conscious.

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Additional Resources for You

Our readers should be aware that our lead attorney, Molly Rosenblum Allen, Esq., has not only provided excellent legal representation but has also created a wealth of resources to assist you in understanding various legal concepts and situations. Here’s a list of insightful resources you may find helpful:

  1. Double Jeopardy: Understanding your rights and the legal intricacies related to being tried for the same crime twice. Read more

  2. Hung Jury: Find out what happens when a jury cannot agree on a verdict and how it affects your case. Read more

  3. Circumstantial Evidence: Learn how indirect evidence can be used in court and how it might impact your case. Read more

  4. Indicted vs Charged: Understand the difference between being indicted and being charged, and the legal process involved in each. Read more

  5. Difference Between Jail and Prison: Get informed about the distinctions between these two types of incarceration. Read more

  6. What are Miranda Rights: Learn about your rights when being questioned by law enforcement and the significance of the Miranda Warning. Read more

  7. How to Check if You Have an Outstanding Warrant: Discover the steps you need to take to find out if there’s an outstanding warrant against you. Read more

  8. What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer: Gain insights into the key qualities and expertise you should seek when choosing legal representation. Read more

  9. Possible Ways to Reduce a Felony Charge: Explore potential strategies that may be employed to lessen the severity of a felony charge. Read more

  10. Should You Accept a Plea Bargain: Understand the implications of plea bargaining and get guidance on whether it’s a suitable option for your case. Read more

Molly Rosenblum Allen, Esq., is dedicated to providing not just legal representation but also education and resources to help you navigate through complex legal situations. Feel free to explore these resources and gain the knowledge you need in your time of need.

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Offsite Resources You May Find Helpful

Here are seven offsite resources that may be of interest to you. They all offer valuable information related to legal matters, particularly those relevant to criminal defense:

  1. American Bar Association: Provides a wealth of resources on various areas of law, including criminal law, family law, and more.

  2. FindLaw: Offers a broad range of legal information, including articles on criminal charges and defenses.

  3. National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers: Offers resources for criminal defense lawyers and those interested in criminal law.

  4. Legal Information Institute – Cornell Law School: Provides a comprehensive legal encyclopedia and a range of legal resources.

  5. Justia: Offers free case law, codes, regulations, and legal information for lawyers, business, students, and consumers worldwide.

  6. National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA): NLADA champions effective legal assistance for people who cannot afford legal counsel.

  7. The Innocence Project: Works to exonerate the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.


Remember, these resources are for informational purposes and are not a substitute for professional legal advice. Always consult a qualified attorney for legal counsel.

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A Special Message From Our Lead Attorney

Headshot of Molly Rosenblum Allen, attorney at law, with long blond hair and wearing a black blazer. Molly Rosenblum Allen is the founder and managing attorney of Rosenblum Allen Law.

Molly Rosenblum, Esq

Dear Reader,

I’m Molly Rosenblum, Esq., and I want to thank you personally for reading through our “Understanding Common Legal Defenses” resources. These materials were designed to help you gain a basic understanding of various legal charges and defenses. But remember, nothing replaces the advice and guidance of a skilled attorney when navigating the legal landscape.

If you or a loved one are facing legal charges, know you have rights and options. Please reach out to our team for a free consultation. We’re here to listen to your story, answer your questions, and discuss potential legal strategies that might apply to your situation.

Don’t hesitate to call us at (702) 433-2889. We understand the gravity of your situation and are here to support you every step of the way.

Thank you again for your time, and I look forward to assisting you in your legal journey.

Best regards,

Molly Rosenblum, Esq.

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