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November 5, 2021

What Is a 72-hour Hearing in Nevada?

When you or a loved one gets charged with a crime, your primary concern is likely the fear of penalties handed down such as a prison sentence or fines. As your case moves through the criminal justice system, it’s natural to feel anxious over the confusing and prolonged maze of procedures and hearings that will determine your case’s outcome. To make matters worse, many suspects must navigate these complex proceedings from behind bars.  

A general understanding of the criminal justice system can help you achieve clarity and peace of mind. Additionally, your attorney’s knowledge of the pre-trial process, starting with Nevada’s 72-hour hearing, can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

How Long Can Someone be Held in Custody in Nevada?

In Nevada, you can be detained following an arrest for 72 hours. If the District Attorney fails to bring formal charges by the 72-hour hearing, the defendant may be eligible for release. Delays in bringing formal charges often occur in drug cases where the prosecution is awaiting lab test results. In these situations, the judge has the discretion to decide whether to keep the suspect incarcerated until the DA is ready to file formal charges.

It’s crucial to be aware that judicial days do not include weekends, holidays, or other days the justice court is closed. That means a person arrested Friday night before a federal holiday like Labor Day may not get a 72-hour hearing until the following Thursday.

What Exactly Is a 72-hour Hearing?

Most people who are arrested in Nevada have the option to leave the jail immediately by posting bail, but anyone who remains in jail longer than three business days gets a 72-hour hearing.

A 72-hour hearing is also called the initial appearance because it’s the first time the defendant gets in front of a judge. During this hearing, the arraignment occurs where the defendant is formally charged in open court. Prosecutors give defendants or their defense attorney the complaint listing the charges against them. The judge will then read those charges aloud unless the defendant waives the reading. During the hearing, prosecutors also hand over the discovery, a packet containing evidence collected thus far in the case such as police reports, surveillance tapes, and forensic test results.

Depending on what kind of charges the defendant is facing, the judge will schedule a trial or preliminary hearing. If the defendant faces only misdemeanor charges, they will enter an initial plea of not guilty. Then the judge may schedule a trial, though most cases resolve through a plea bargain. If the defendant is charged with a felony, then the court will schedule a preliminary hearing which will take place two weeks later unless there is a delay.

Who Can Attend a 72-Hour Hearing?

Defendants must be at their 72-hour hearings in court or video conference from jail. A criminal defense attorney may appear along with the defendant at the hearing. Typically, a defendant’s family can also attend the 72-hour hearing in the courtroom.

What Can Be Asked During a 72-Hour Hearing?

The 72-hour hearing is when the defense attorney can argue for lower bail or release on the defendant’s own recognizance. It’s worth noting that if the judge refuses, the defendant can still request bail reductions at a later date.

The judge will consider several factors in setting bail, such as criminal history, occupation, and ties to the community. If a judge thinks the defendant is a public safety or flight risk, the possibility of bail may be removed, meaning the alleged offender would have to stay in jail until the end of criminal proceedings. Judges also have the discretion to release defendants on house arrest with electric monitoring pending trial. 

72-Hour Hearing Vs. 48-Hour Hearing

A 48-hour hearing is where a judge does a preliminary review of all available information in a criminal case. The purpose is to determine whether probable cause exists to continue detaining the defendant until the 72-hour hearing. If probable cause is determined, they can use the 48-hour hearing to adjust the bail amount, but that is atypical. If the judge does not find probable cause, the defendant will get released with no charges pending, and no bail required. Defendants do not attend these hearings, which are held in the judge’s chambers. 

On the other hand, the 72-hour hearing occurs in open court with defendants, defense attorneys, and prosecutors present. The defendant gets formally charged during a 72-hour hearing, while charges are still only pending by the 48-hour hearing.

Have You Been Charged With a Crime in Henderson, Nevada? Let Us Represent You

The assistance of a criminal defense lawyer is essential, especially during the early stages of proceedings. Your attorney can recommend whether it’s best to plead not guilty or negotiate a plea bargain based on available evidence. They can get a head start on filing motions when there is limited time to do so. 

Through advocacy and strategic thinking from the onset of the case, our clients stand the best chance at a favorable resolution if we are with them every step of the way. To find out more about how a criminal lawyer in Henderson can help you or your loved one journey forward, contact John F. Marchiano Law Corporation today for a confidential consultation.