Getting charged with a crime is intimidating. The first step to overcoming that intimidation is to familiarize yourself with the criminal justice process as well as criminal law in Henderson and Las Vegas.
What Is the Criminal Process in Nevada: An Insightful Look at Procedure
A criminal case begins when an arrest takes place. There are two origins to an arrest:
- Under a Warrant – Warrants are granted to police by a judge that determines there is probable cause that a defendant committed a crime.
- Without a Warrant – A police officer can make an arrest whenever they believe they caught someone red-handed—either committing, about to commit, or recently having had committed a crime.
Committing a Crime
Committing a crime means acting in violation of state or federal law. There are a variety of categories and subcategories relating to types of crimes, but the major distinction is between misdemeanors and felonies.
Misdemeanors are usually smaller nonviolent crimes that carry penalties of small fines and sometimes minimal jail time. Some common misdemeanors are petty theft, possession of a small amount of an illicit substance, and resisting arrest.
Felonies are either serious nonviolent crimes or violent crimes that can carry penalties of large fines and long prison time. Some common felonies are murder, rape, and burglary.
Exercising Your Rights Before an Arrest
If criminally accused, it is essential to understand that you have rights that you should probably exercise; the most important of which is the right to remain silent.
Remember police officers can only arrest you under three circumstances:
- They have a signed warrant for your arrest.
- They caught you in the act of committing a crime.
- They have probable cause to suspect that you have or will commit a crime.
If an officer claims to have a warrant for your arrest, politely ask to read the warrant to ensure that it is valid and identifies you. If an officer asks to search your property whether that be a vehicle or residence, it is best to decline unless they have a warrant. If an officer asks you questions, it is best to exercise your right to remain silent and say nothing regarding your case until you have an attorney present.
Detention and Arrest
Knowing the difference between detention and arrest is critical.
Detention is when an officer temporarily stops you to ask questions. If detained (held under detention), you are not free to leave. However, you are free to exercise your right to remain silent, and it is probably a good idea to do so. Detentions are meant to be short and as non-intrusive as possible.
Sometimes an officer will stop to ask you questions without intending to detain you. For that reason, it is wise to ask an officer whether you are being detained. If you are not being detained, then feel free to leave.
While the line between detention and arrest can be a little blurry, an arrest entails an officer physically moving you to another location while detention does not. Remember, while under arrest, it may be best to exercise your right to remain silent until you speak with an attorney.
Bail is an amount of money that a court holds in exchange for a release from jail for the duration of a trial. Bail is intended to serve a strong motivator for attending court sessions. If you attend all court sessions, you will get your money back.
If you do not have enough money to make bail, you can pay a bail bondsman a portion of the bail who will cover the full cost of bail on your behalf. Of course, if a bail bondsman covers your bail, they keep the money you pay them and the money when your trial is over to get the money they fronted on your behalf back.
Nevada courts will sometimes make bail conditional. That means that they will require defendants to comply with specific requests to stay out of jail. Sometimes conditions are refraining from drugs and alcohol, forfeiture of your passport, or remaining employed for the duration of the trial.
Whenever criminally accused, it is essential to hire a criminal defense attorney with experience handling cases just like yours. The Marchiano Law Corporation fits that bill. The Marchiano Law Corporation has lawyers with years of experience managing a variety of criminal cases including burglary/robbery, drug possession/distribution, DUIs/DWIs, and domestic violence.
If you are facing a criminal accusation, contact the Marchiano Law Corporation by calling 702-565-0473.
The Marchiano Law Corporation will provide stellar criminal defense and ensure that you are prepared for trial.
Going to Court
The severity of an alleged crime and where it was supposedly committed will determine which court will hear your case. If charged with a misdemeanor offense, you will have your case heard in municipal or justice court such as the Las Vegas Municipal court or Henderson Justice Court. If allegations of a felony are put forth against you, then you will likely have your case heard in Clark County District Court.
There are five main parts to the criminal trial process.
- Arraignment – The first court hearing where the defendant makes their plea of innocence, guilt, or no contest.
- Preliminary hearing – The first adversarial court proceeding which concludes with a judge determining whether the state has probable cause to pursue action against a defendant.
- Pre-trial motions – An out-of-court component of a criminal trial that consists of the prosecuting and defending attorneys working with the judge to establish what evidence will be admissible in court.
- Trial – During trial, a judge or jury determines the guilt or innocence of a defendant.
- Sentencing – The judge presiding over a case decides the punishment they believe is appropriate for the convicted party.
Records of Criminal Records
If you are convicted of a crime, you probably do not want that conviction hanging over your head. A criminal conviction creates a stigma that can hinder your sociability and employability moving forward.
Luckily, Nevada offers a path to clearing one’s for a variety of crimes. Different crimes have record expungement requirements. If interested in expunging your criminal record, you should contact legal professionals well-equipped for the task.
While this article provides a general outline of the criminal justice process, it is no substitute for an experienced attorney. Being charged with a crime is a serious matter that deserves serious representation. Call us at 702-565-0473 to protect your rights.