While arrests or the issue of an active warrant in Nevada mark the beginning of criminal proceedings against a person, in some scenarios, a citation or summons may be released against an accused. This route is generally reserved for cases made against trivial offenses. In case of felonies, arrests can be made without outstanding warrants. However, when the matter qualifies as a gross misdemeanor, an active warrant will typically be sought.
How are arrest warrants issued in NV?
After a criminal investigation has been concluded, the police approach the court with a sworn statement which is known as “complaint/information”. This affidavit charges the suspect with a crime and informs the court of the illicit occurrence and the evidence that shows the involvement of the accused in it. Arrest warrants are exclusively issued on the basis of probable cause. Also, arrests without warrants have to be made only once police have reasonable cause to suspect culpability.
An indictment can also lead to the issue of an arrest warrant. This is when the affirmation is taken before the grand jury instead of a magistrate. If the jurors return the indictment, formal charges are brought against the defendant and an active warrant is released for his detention.
Arrests and booking
Arrests can be made under a warrant or without one; in either case, the accused will be physically restrained and taken to a holding facility. Before this, the officers at the scene will give him a search down and impound any suspicious and illegal paraphernalia found on his person including drugs and ammunition. At the booking center, information including fingerprints and snapshots will be collected of the arrestee. After this, the defendant will be held in custody till the court schedules a bail hearing.
While all defendants have the right to go to court for a bail hearing, it is not necessary that everybody who appeals for bonded release will be granted their freedom. A lot will depend on the crime history of the defendant and the specific charges that he is being held under. As a matter of law, in case of some felonies bail is not granted. This usually holds true in matters dealing with gruesome crimes such as rape and homicide.
If bail is granted, the accused is required to post the bond amount as surety which will be refunded after the criminal case ends regardless of the verdict. Predictably, the more serious the offense in question, the higher will be the bail amount.
Arraignments and pretrial conferences
This is the first appearance of the alleged offender in court after the bail hearing. During this court session, the charges framed against the accused will be read out to him and he will be asked to enter a plea which can be “guilty”, “not guilty” or “nollo contender” which means no contest. Arraignments are typically held in municipal or justice courts while the trial goes to the district court if the crime in question is serious.
In the pretrial conference, the District Attorney’s office provides the defense all their ‘discovery’ which they intend to use as evidence against the defendant. The prosecution is also legally required to hand over any evidence that can help the defense team. A plea bargain may be worked out at this point wherein the defendant pleads guilty in return for a lesser sentence.
Preliminary hearings and the trial proper
Preliminary hearings are only held in Nevada for defendants who are being charged with felonies. These are mini trials in which the judge decides if the evidence is enough to transfer the case to the district court. Defendants rarely win preliminary hearings because the burden of proof, that is the requirement to prove guilty beyond doubt, is so low.
If the matter is not resolved through a plea bargain, it goes to trial. Defendants being charged of criminal infractions in Nevada have the choice to be tried in a jury or bench trial. However, bench trials are only allowed when the offense committed carries a punishment of more than six months in jail. The verdict is delivered by the jurors who have to be unanimous in their decision.
On the other hand, the sentencing is carried out by the judge. In case of minor penalties, the sentence can be read out immediately after the verdict. However, in case of serious crimes, the sentencing is usually held a few weeks after the verdict. In the sentencing hearing, the defense and prosecution are one again allowed to argue on the severity of the punishment.