The "48-Hour Hearing" and "72-Hour Hearing" in Nevada Law
(Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys)

Most people who are arrested in Nevada have the option to leave jail immediately by posting bail. But anyone who remains in jail longer than two business days has the right to a "48-hour hearing" and then if necessary a "72-hour hearing," where the defense attorney may ask for a Nevada bail reduction. Depending on what occurs at these hearings, the arrestees may be able to get released from jail.

On this page our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys demystify what happens at 48-hour hearings and 72-hour hearings in Nevada. Click on a question below to go directly to that topic:

  1. What happens when a person is arrested in Nevada?
  2. What happens at a 48-hour hearing in Nevada?
  3. What happens at a 72-hour hearing in Nevada?
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People arrested for a crime in Nevada are entitled to a 48-hour hearing and a 72-hour hearing if they are unable to bail out beforehand.

1) What happens when a person is arrested in Nevada?

Police may arrest a person in Nevada if the police has probable cause to believe that person committed a crime. Following arrest, the police brings the suspect to the police station and books him. Booking involves taking fingerprints and a mug shot. Then depending on the crime the person allegedly committed, the person may be able to "bail out" and be released pending the outcome of the criminal case. 

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People arrested for a crime in Nevada are taken to the police station for booking. They will remain in jail unless they can bail out.

Each Nevada county has a "schedule" that lists common crimes with their respective bail amounts. These bail amounts automatically "attach" the suspect's case depending on what charge(s) he/she is facing.  The more minor the offense, the lower the bail amount. The more serious the offense, the higher the bail amount.

Note that bail is not available to everyone. If the arrestee is accused of a crime that is is very serious (such as the Nevada crime of murder) or if the police consider the suspect a flight risk or danger to the community, the suspect may not be able to bail out at all and will have to remain incarcerated pending the case's outcome. Learn more about Nevada bail laws.

2) What happens at a forty-eight-hour hearing in Nevada?

Nevada arrestees who cannot bail out...or choose not to bail out...are entitled to a 48-hour hearing within two (2) judicial days of the arrest. Unlike "calendar days," judicial days do not include weekends, holidays, or other days that the court is closed. So a person arrested Friday night in Las Vegas on Memorial Day weekend does not get a 48-hour hearing until the following Wednesday.

The 48-hour hearing is where a judge (also called a "magistrate") reviews all the available information and evidence in the case, which often includes only police reports. Then based on this information, the judge decides whether sufficient "probable cause" exists to continue detaining the suspect until 72-hour hearing (where formal charges are filed). If the judge finds that probable cause does exist, he/she then reviews whether the bail setting in the case is appropriate and whether to adjust it.

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48-hour hearings in Nevada are not really hearings because no one other than the judge and clerks are present. They are held in the judge's chambers.

Note that a "48-hour hearing" is a misnomer because it is not a traditional hearing: A judge holds a 48-hour hearing "in camera," which means in his/her chambers and not in "open court" (a courtroom). Furthermore, neither the arrestee nor his/her defense attorney nor the District Attorney is present. So although the Clark County Detention Center (CCDC) inmate information site reveals when an inmates' 48-hour hearing is, friends and family may not attend.

Bail:

It is very rare for judges to change bail amounts during a 48-hour hearing. They are largely perfunctory proceedings. A few judges do open 48-hour hearings to the defense attorney and treat 48-hearings as a bail hearing; a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney will know when this is an option.

3) What happens at a seventy-two hour hearing in Nevada?

Nevada arrestees who cannot bail out...or choose not to bail out...are entitled to 72-hour hearing within three (3) judicial days of being arrested. Unlike "calendar days," judicial days do not include weekends, holidays, or other days that the court is closed. So a person arrested Friday night in Las Vegas on Memorial Day weekend does not get a 72-hour hearing until the following Thursday--the day after the 48-hour hearing.

72-hour hearings are where the prosecutor gives the defendant or defense attorney the formal complaint (which lists the criminal charges he/she is accused of) as well as the "discovery" (which is a packet containing all the available evidence in the case--this usually includes police reports). Depending on whether the charges includes Nevada misdemeanors or Nevada felonies, the judge will set the case for trial or for a Nevada preliminary hearing. The 72-hour hearing is also where the defense attorney can argue for lower bail or O.R. release (O.R. stands for "own recognizance," and it means the defendant is released pending the outcome of the case without having to pay any bail in the meantime.)

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72-hour hearings in Nevada are a defendant's first opportunity to see a judge in person (or through video-conferencing).

The major difference between a 48-hour hearing and a 72-hour hearing is that the 72-hour hearing is held in open court in the presence of the defendant. (In some court departments, the defendant appears via video-conferencing instead of in person.) Therefore, the 72-hour hearing is usually the first-time a defendant gets to appear before a judge as well as the first-time a defense attorney can have a bail hearing. 72-hour hearings are often called the "initial appearance."

72-hour hearings are essentially no different from arraignments in Nevada. Whereas a person who is released from jail shortly following arrest may not have to return to court for the arraignment for several weeks, people who remain in custody following arrest must get their arraignment during the 72-hour hearing.

Note that if the District Attorney fails to bring formal charges by the 72-hour hearing, the suspect may be eligible to be released. Delays in bringing formal charges often occur in drug cases where the prosecution is awaiting test results from labs. In these situations, the judge has discretion to decide whether to keep the suspect incarcerated until the D.A. is ready to file formal charges.1

Bail:

Defense attorneys can request bail hearings at any point during a criminal case, even right before trial. But unless new information emerges that shed new light on the case, it is very rare for judges to reconsider bail following a 72-hour hearing. That is why it is vital for defense attorneys to make as strong play for bail reduction during the 72-hour hearing.

Pretrial Services Report:

Pretrial Services is an agency separate from the court that compiles relevant information about criminal defendants such as custody status and other identifying facts. Pretrial Services is supposed to interview in-custody defendants prior to 72-hour hearings, though in reality this does not happen all the time. The Pretrial Services report is given to the court at the 72-hour hearing, is usually one page long, and contains the following information:

  • defendant's name
  • defendant's address, and length of residency
  • defendant's job, and length of employment
  • defendant's criminal record (which also includes instances of the Nevada crime of failing to appear in court)

Pretrial Service reports are not always accurate or complete. The defense attorney would notate any errors and inform the court.

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Call 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a criminal defense attorney.

Arrested in Nevada? Call an attorney...

If you or a loved one has been arrested in Nevada, call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys @ 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a FREE consultation. We may be able to get you released from jail with little or no bail. Then we will do our best to get the charges reduced or dismissed without a trial so that you can get back to your life as soon as possible.

Legal References:

1 NRS 171.178 Appearance before magistrate; release from custody by arresting officer.

      1. Except as otherwise provided in subsections 5 and 6, a peace officer making an arrest under a warrant issued upon a complaint or without a warrant shall take the arrested person without unnecessary delay before the magistrate who issued the warrant or the nearest available magistrate empowered to commit persons charged with offenses against the laws of the State of Nevada.

      2. A private person making an arrest without a warrant shall deliver the arrested person without unnecessary delay to a peace officer. Except as otherwise provided in subsections 5 and 6 and NRS 171.1772, the peace officer shall take the arrested person without unnecessary delay before the nearest available magistrate empowered to commit persons charged with offenses against the laws of the State of Nevada.

      3. If an arrested person is not brought before a magistrate within 72 hours after arrest, excluding nonjudicial days, the magistrate:

      (a) Shall give the prosecuting attorney an opportunity to explain the circumstances leading to the delay; and

      (b) May release the arrested person if the magistrate determines that the person was not brought before a magistrate without unnecessary delay.

      4. When a person arrested without a warrant is brought before a magistrate, a complaint must be filed forthwith.

      5. Except as otherwise provided in NRS 178.484 and 178.487, where the defendant can be admitted to bail without appearing personally before a magistrate, the defendant must be so admitted with the least possible delay, and required to appear before a magistrate at the earliest convenient time thereafter.

      6. A peace officer may immediately release from custody without any further proceedings any person the peace officer arrests without a warrant if the peace officer is satisfied that there are insufficient grounds for issuing a criminal complaint against the person arrested. Any record of the arrest of a person released pursuant to this subsection must also include a record of the release. A person so released shall be deemed not to have been arrested but only detained.

NRS 171.196 Preliminary examination: Waiver; time for conducting; postponement; introduction of evidence and cross-examination of witnesses by defendant.

      1. If an offense is not triable in the Justice Court, the defendant must not be called upon to plead. If the defendant waives preliminary examination, the magistrate shall immediately hold the defendant to answer in the district court.

      2. If the defendant does not waive examination, the magistrate shall hear the evidence within 15 days, unless for good cause shown the magistrate extends such time. Unless the defendant waives counsel, reasonable time must be allowed for counsel to appear.

      3. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, if the magistrate postpones the examination at the request of a party, the magistrate may order that party to pay all or part of the costs and fees expended to have a witness attend the examination. The magistrate shall not require a party who requested the postponement of the examination to pay for the costs and fees of a witness if:

      (a) It was not reasonably necessary for the witness to attend the examination; or

      (b) The magistrate ordered the extension pursuant to subsection 4.

      4. If application is made for the appointment of counsel for an indigent defendant, the magistrate shall postpone the examination until:

      (a) The application has been granted or denied; and

      (b) If the application is granted, the attorney appointed or the public defender has had reasonable time to appear.

      5. The defendant may cross-examine witnesses against him or her and may introduce evidence in his or her own behalf.

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