What Happens in a Criminal Case?
Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney Assisting Clients in Nevada
Facing criminal charges in Las Vegas can be confusing, intimidating, and alarming for anybody regardless of that person’s criminal record. Las Vegas has a reputation for arrests, and many tourists to the casinos on the Strip find themselves enjoying their vacation one moment and arrested the next for a criminal offense under Nevada law. While the Strip and surrounding areas in Las Vegas have many opportunities for tourists and residents alike, it can be easy to get carried away with the culture of the region.
At Lobo Law, we know that people are wrongly accused of crimes every day, and we also know that people make mistakes and deserve to have experienced counsel to assist with a defense. We pride ourselves on serving our clients aggressively while still remaining compassionate toward every client we serve. One of the most frustrating issues surrounding criminal charges in Nevada a lack of clarity about how the criminal law process works. We want to say more about the general procedure in a criminal case in Las Vegas.
1. Indictments and Arrests
The first step in any criminal case is an indictment and an arrest (Nevada Rev. Stat. §§ 173.015 to 173.205). Sometimes the police are already building a case against a person and have been gathering evidence to obtain an arrest warrant. In those cases, a grand jury looks at the evidence to decide whether there is reason to move forward with the case. If the grand jury believes there is sufficient evidence, a district attorney will file an indictment and a judge can sign an arrest warrant.
However, many arrests simply occur when the police observe a person allegedly committing a crime. If the police believe they have probable cause, they can arrest a person.
2. Posting Bail
Once a person has been arrested, she or he may be able to post bail. Posting bail means putting up money or other assets so that the defendant can be released prior to the arraignment and the pretrial process more generally.
Most people are eligible for bail, but there are some cases where the judge decides that bail is inappropriate.
3. The Pretrial Process: Arraignment, Pretrial Conferences, and Preliminary Hearings
The pretrial process refers to everything that occurs before the defendant goes on trial. The first part is arraignment, which is the defendant’s first court appearance. At the arraignment, the prosecutor will present the charges against the defendant, and the defendant can plead “guilty” or “not guilty.” Pretrial conferences and preliminary hearings following the initial arraignment, and these involve a general “discovery” process in which the defendant can have access to the evidence in the case, and the prosecutor presents evidence that the state has against the defendant.
The pretrial process is also the phase at which the defendant can agree to a plea bargain. However, a defendant should never agree to a plea bargain without seeking advice from a Nevada criminal defense lawyer.
4. Going to Trial in Nevada
If the defendant does not agree to a plea bargain, then the case will go to trial. Trials can take anywhere from a day to many months depending upon the specific facts of the case. Both sides present evidence and witnesses are called to support each side’s case. The trial may be a bench trial (with a judge) or jury trial depending upon the charges and the specific facts of the case. The defendant remains permitted to agree to a plea bargain throughout the trial–up until the verdict.
The verdict comes at the end of the trial, and it says whether the defendant is guilty (convicted) or not guilty of the charges. In some cases, a defendant can appeal a guilty verdict.
5. Sentencing in a Las Vegas Criminal Case
If a defendant is convicted, or if a defendant pleads guilty through a plea bargain, then sentencing will occur in a separate hearing. Criminal sentences vary widely depending upon the case. Generally speaking, however, a sentence may include: community service, financial fines, classes, restitution, and jail time.
Contact a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney
Were you arrested in Las Vegas? Are you facing criminal charges under Nevada law? An experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer at our firm can begin working on your defense today. Contact Lobo Law to learn more about the services we provide to defendants in Nevada.