The process for criminal law in Las Vegas may differ slightly from what you are used to in other states, so if you are moving to Las Vegas it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the differences between criminal law in Nevada and elsewhere. One area that is worth understanding about Criminal Law in Las Vegas is that there is a statute of limitations for misdemeanor charges in Nevada, and that limit is one year and one day. The statute of limitations is different for felony cases, Most are for 4 years, but murder does not have a statute of limitations. A simple misdemeanor in Las Vegas municipal court will be handled by the Las Vegas Justice Court. Or Municipal Simple cases include shoplifting, traffic tickets, possession of marijuana, DUI, and domestic violence Felonies and other more serious state cases will be tried at 8th Judicial District Court. This court is also responsible for hearing appeals from the Las Vegas Justice Court.
The Legal Process
When someone is arrested, the police will try and interview the arrestee. ( I always advise my clients not to make a statement before contacting an attorney) and any witnesses, and put together a report. As a part of the arrest, the police officer must go through the Miranda Rights process, telling that person that they have the right to remain silent, and the right to have an attorney present during their questioning. If the arrested person cannot afford to have their own. The courts will appoint a lawyer to help a person with their defense. The lawyers that defend people who are unable to pay for their own defense are called public defenders. To qualify to have a public defender work with you, you must have an income below a given threshold. If you have a charge pending, or you are worried that you are going to be charged with an offense in Las Vegas, then you should call an attorney as soon as possible.
When dealing with Criminal Law in Las Vegas, a police report does not automatically mean that you are being charged with something. If there is not enough evidence to support a charge, then you will not be charged. If the district attorney believes that there is enough evidence to warrant a charge, then they will fill out a criminal complaint form. This starts the legal process. The district attorney is claiming that the accused has committed a crime, and now they must prove it.
Criminal Law in Las Vegas starts with an arraignment hearing, which is the first appearance that the defendant will have in court. The defendant is asked to make a plea about their accusation. That plea is usually going to be ‘not guilty’, although they may also plead guilty, or ‘no contest’. The latter is an unusual plea which means that they do not contest the charges, but that they also do not admit guilt. However, the court will find you guilty. The attorney may appear on behalf of the client instead of the client appearing.
The next step is for the defendant’s attorney to ask for a copy of the police reports, witness statements, and other evidence. In some cases the defendant’s attorney will try to negotiate a plea bargain. With criminal law in Las Vegas, and in other parts of the United States too, around 90 percent of cases be resolved by a plea bargain rather than a trial. This may seem like a high percentage, but you should understand that for a case to go to trial the district attorney must believe that there is enough evidence to make it worthwhile. The burden of proof required in a criminal case ( beyond a reasonable doubt) is set up to protect the accused. With Criminal Law in Las Vegas, the accused are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty. This means that there is the opportunity to be released on bail. There are some cases where someone can be released without bail. The judge may release the Defendant on his or her own recognizance and not require bail. The amount of Bail is set at the discretion of the court, and is assessed on a case by case basis. The bond will be set on the day of the arraignment, and there is the option for the judge to set conditions to ensure that the defendant will come back to court. The defendant must pay collateral to be released. The amount of collateral depends on their circumstances and the type of crime. There are bail bond companies that can help people who cannot afford to pay the entire amount in cash and bond themselves. In Criminal Law in Las Vegas, the Defendants must pay 15% If the defendant does not meet the conditions of their bail, then the court keeps the money, and a warrant will be issued.
In Criminal Law in Las Vegas, Felony cases are tried in front of a jury. Misdemeanors do not involve a jury, but rather are ‘bench trials’. These trials are heard by a judge who will determine whether the defendant is guilty or not, and who will impose the sentence unless the charge is domestic violence. If so, a defendant is entitled to a jury trial. The judges are highly trained and are bound by an oath to be as fair and balanced as possible. It is still important to have good representation though, to ensure that the case is seen fairly from both sides.
Often, a good attorney can help with ensuring fair treatment and can highlight areas wherein law enforcement may have acted inappropriately. Search and Seizure, for example, is one area in which law enforcement may overreach. Under the fourth amendment, law enforcement must get a warrant to conduct a search if they suspect that someone is doing something illegal. The exception to this is that no warrant is necessary if something is in plain view. This doctrine is used by the TSA when they are performing screenings. There are several conditions that must be met for the ‘plain view’ doctrine to apply, though. The doctrine does not allow them to open closed containers, or invade people’s privacy and then use the evidence collected in trial if it was improperly obtained without a warrant.
In dealing with Criminal Law in Las Vegas, criminal lawyers are there to protect the people that they are working with, and that includes making sure that any interviews are conducted fairly, that pleas are reasonable, and that evidence was collected properly. If the accused did commit the offense in question then they will work to make sure that the punishment is fair and that it takes into account any mitigating circumstances (First offense, the person was ‘under duress’ from an associate, or was not thinking clearly at the time, was under the influence of alcohol). The justice system is set up to be as fair as possible, and to ensure that justice is done for victims and that criminals are punished, but people on both sides of the system (the accused and the accuser) have the right to fair treatment and for proper due process to be followed.
Note that Criminal Law in Las Vegas is slightly different for those under the juvenile system than it is 18 for adults. If a young person is accused of a crime then their crimes will be looked at in a different light, and the juvenile justice system is intended to rehabilitate young offenders before punishing the minor, taking into account the fact that the accused was a child when the crime was committed. The stance is that young people cannot make decisions as well as adults and that if a young person’s crime goes on their permanent record then it could leave them unable to pursue productive work as an adult. Lawmakers believe that young people deserve a second chance, and to enter adulthood with a clean slate so that there are as few barriers as possible to them becoming productive members of society. In Criminal Law in Las Vegas, young people should still have the support of a qualified attorney if they are accused of a crime, to ensure that they get appropriate treatment and that their case is heard in the right court (especially if they are close to coming of age). It is not unheard of for a juvenile case to be transferred to the adult criminal courts in the case of a serious offense, and the accused was close to adult age when the crime was committed.
Most cases for under 18’s will be tried in juvenile court. It is called a contested hearing. Under the law of Nevada, the courts do have the option to certify someone as an adult if the accused is over the age of 13 and has been accused of a high level felony-level offense i.e. murder or armed robbery. Those under the age of 13 will almost always be tried in a juvenile court. The only time that a child must be tried as an adult is if the child was 16 or 17 at the time of the alleged crime, and the charge either involved sexual assault (rape), murder or robbery or possibly when a firearm was involved. Even in those instances, there are some exceptions, such as for children that have emotional or behavioral problems, or if the child is clearly not developmentally or mentally competent enough to understand the situation. Children and adults see the world differently, and a good attorney will be able to make sure that the child is tried in a way that is appropriate.
So if you have a Criminal Law issue in Las Vegas, give us a call to see how we can help you! We have been helping people in the Las Vegas Valley for over thirty (30) years. Click here to learn more about how we can assist you with your criminal law issue. To learn more about Mace Yampolsky click here.