What is a Deadly Weapon?


This article is not intended as advice for your specific matter.  Rather, it is a general article about Nevada law.  If you have questions about your particular case, please call Mueller, Hinds and Associates, Chtd. immediately at (702) 940-1234.  This information is valid as of January 26, 2018.

The law in Nevada punishes crimes more severely when a deadly weapon is used. This is known as an enhancement to the underlying crime and there are a number of ways a crime’s punishment can be lengthened. Nevada Revised Statutes section 193.165 provides that the use of a “deadly weapon” must be punished by a consecutive penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Certainly, there are categories of objects and substances that are clearly deadly weapons – gunsknives and a 4,000 lb. SUV.

Subsection 6, of NRS 193.165 defines a “deadly weapon” broadly as:
(a) Any instrument which, if used in the ordinary manner contemplated by its design and construction, will or is likely to cause substantial bodily harm or death;
(b) Any weapon, device, instrument, material or substance which, under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used, Is readily capable of causing substantial bodily harm or death; …

Can anything be a deadly weapon in Nevada? In the Marvel Comic Book series “Bullseye” is an assassin with no superpower, but the ability to use almost any object as a lethal projectile from knives to playing cards and pencils. Under, NRS 193.165(6), depending on how they are used, even a pencil can be a deadly weapon.

Does that apply to a screwdriver? The Supreme Court of Nevada answered that question in Rodriguez v. State, 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 110 (2017) (filed Dec. 28, 2017). The defendant in Rodriguez challenged the jury instruction that defined “deadly weapon” in the context of a battery. The defendant was accused and convicted of using a 4-6” long screwdriver to stab the victim, causing bleeding and a one-night stay in a hospital. The defendant had submitted a jury instruction that defined a deadly weapon as “inherently dangerous” but the lower court used the “functional” definition that the State submitted. The defendant pointed to case law that seemed to support his position, but the Supreme Court of Nevada pointed out that since those decisions, the legislature had defined a deadly weapon under both those theories of dangerousness. The conviction was affirmed.

Have you or a loved one been accused of a crime and cannot afford to hire experts and investigators? Contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Mueller Hinds & Associates for a free consultation.