Throughout the United States and within its jails, pretrial detainees make up a significant part of the jailed population. According to news reports, seventy-five percent of detainees who are being held in jail are there because they cannot afford to post bail. Currently, Nevada legislators are at work studying and reviewing the rules for pretrial release in the state. A meeting of an interim legislative committee responsible for developing future recommendations and/or reforms for individuals detained on criminal charges was held late last month, as reported in Nevada Appeal and the Las Vegas Sun.
Pretrial Release – News and Recent Developments in Nevada
In Nevada, most (approximately 90 percent) of people detained in jail are held in either the Clark County Detention Center or the Washoe County jails. The Clark County Detention Center holds more than 3000 detainees. The Washoe County jail averaged over 1000 daily inmates in 2017.
Nevada state law (NRS 178.4851) provides that if a person is charged with a bailable offense, he or she can be released without bail if the court decides that:
- it can condition the release so that the community’s health, safety and welfare are protected, and
- the person released without bail will return to court and appear when ordered to do so
The law (NRS 178.4853) also lists various factors for the court to consider in deciding whether to release a person without bail. These factors include:
- how long the person has been living in the community
- the person’s employment status and history
- interpersonal relationships
- reputation and character
- mental condition
- prior criminal record, if any
- whether there are community members who can attest to the person’s character
- the nature of the offense charged
- the nature and seriousness of any dangers to the victim or community
- the likelihood of future crimes
Nevada’s Pre-Risk Assessment Tool
Last Spring, the Nevada Appeal reported on the Nevada Supreme Court’s order that requires state courts to use a “pre-trial risk assessment tool” to determine whether an individual who is arrested can be released. This tool is expected to successfully predict whether an individual will return to court as required after an arrest, or whether there is a high risk of the individual not showing up in court and/or posing a danger to the public if released. By September 2020, Nevada courts will have fully integrated their use of this tool.
Essentially, the pre-trial risk assessment tool evaluates a number of factors to help determine whether someone should be released after arrest. These factors include:
- the age of the detainee at his or her first arrest
- the length of time the detainee has lived at his or her current residence
- whether substance abuse concerns are present
- whether the detainee is a defendant in another pending criminal case
- the detainee’s employment status
- whether the detainee has another pending criminal case
- whether the detainee has previously (within the past 10 years) been convicted of a crime
If you or someone you know has been arrested, or if you have questions about Nevada’s bail or pretrial release laws, contact Lobo Law to speak with a seasoned and experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer.