Nevada bail hearings are where the court determines whether a defendant may be released from custody during the pendency of the criminal case. An experienced Las Vegas lawyer may be able to persuade the judge to lower the bail or even lift bail completely, so that the defendant has to pay nothing.
This article discusses what to expect at a Las Vegas bail hearing. Scroll down to learn about the purpose, procedures and laws of bail hearings in Nevada.
What is bail in Las Vegas, NV?
Most people who get arrested in Nevada are eligible to be released from custody during the pendency of the case as long as they pay the court bail. The purpose of bail is to assure the court that the defendant will make all their court appearances.
As a general rule, the judge imposes higher bail for more serious crimes and lower bail for less serious crimes. As long as the defendant makes all the court appearances, the bail money will usually be returned to the defendant at the end of the case even if the defendant is convicted.
What is a bail hearing in Las Vegas, NV?
A Nevada bail hearing is where a defense attorney appears in court to petition the judge (1) to release the defendant without requiring bail (Nevada OR release) or (2) to reduce the bail to a more affordable sum that the defendant can pay. If the judge agrees, then the defendant may be released from incarceration pending the outcome of the criminal case.
What happens at a bail hearing in Las Vegas, NV?
A bail hearing in Las Vegas is like a miniature trial: Both the defense attorney and prosecutor make arguments and may present evidence and witnesses. But the issue is not whether the defendant is guilty of the crime charged . . . instead it's whether the defendant should be released from custody while the court proceedings take place.
In order for a defendant to be released from jail pending the case resolution, the defense attorney must persuade the judge of two things:
- that the defendant is not a danger to the community, and
- that the defendant is not a flight risk
At the end of a Las Vegas bail hearing, the judge may rule in one of four ways:
- to release the defendant without any bail at all ("on their own recognizance"),
- to lower the bail amount, thereby increasing the likelihood that the defendant can afford bail out,
- to keep the defendant in custody at the current bail amount, or
- to keep the defendant in custody at a higher bail amount
Note that at bail hearings defendants are not required to speak and that their defense attorneys may do all the talking on their behalf. It's also typical for the defendant to have a Nevada bail bondsman present at the hearing to expedite the bailout process.
When do bail hearings occur in Las Vegas, NV?
A defense attorney may request a bail hearing in Las Vegas anytime during the course of a criminal case. It usually occurs as early as the initial arraignment in Nevada, but it can take place as late as trial.
How long do bail hearings last in Las Vegas, NV?
Most of the time they last just a few minutes. But if the defense attorney wishes to call witnesses or present lengthy arguments, then they can last for hours.
Can a defendant have more than one bail hearing in Las Vegas, NV?
Yes. If a defendant loses at a Nevada bail hearing, the defense attorney can request further hearings as the case proceeds. But there's usually no point to request another hearing unless the defense attorney has new evidence or arguments. The defendant also runs the risk of the judge raising the bail if the prosecution presents new evidence or arguments.
Does an attorney have to request a bail hearing in advance in Nevada?
Usually not. It's common practice in Clark County Justice Court for a defense attorney to ask for a spontaneous bail hearing directly following the defendant's arraignment in Nevada. As long as the prosecutor agrees to the bail hearing, the judge will usually hold the hearing on the spot.
However if the defense attorney believes that the bail hearing will be lengthy, then he/she should request one in advance. This way the court will allot plenty of time for the hearing so it's not rushed.
How do you win a bail hearing in Las Vegas, NV?
The surest way to win a bail hearing in Las Vegas is for the defense attorney to show that the defendant is 1) not a danger to the community, or 2) not a flight risk.
In order to demonstrate that the defendant poses no danger to the community in Nevada, the defense attorney may try to present evidence of the following:
- the defendant has no criminal record or a negligible criminal record
- the defendant has no outstanding warrants and is not on parole or probation
- the defendant has not been arrested for a violent crime
- the defendant was not arrested with weapons in his/her possession
- the defendant has a good reputation
- the defendant wouldn't be a threat to the alleged victim in the case or anyone else in the community
In an effort to show that the defendant would never flee the country, the defense attorney would try to introduce evidence of the following:
- the defendant has strong, long-term ties to the community (the defendant works and has a family in town)
- the defendant has never failed to appear in court in the past
- the defendant has no immigration issues
- the defendant is willing to give up his/her passport or wear a GPS tracker
Defense lawyers may also call witnesses such as the defendant's employers, colleagues, family, friends, landlords, religious teachers or counselors to vouch for the defendant's character.
Jailed? There's help . . . .
If your loved one has been arrested and is currently in custody, contact Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (333-3673) for a free consultation. They may be able to schedule a bail hearing to argue for your loved one's swift release with no bail payment at all.
For more information about Nevada bail procedures, go to our informational article on How to bail out an inmate in a Nevada jail. To learn about California bail hearings, go to our page devoted to California bail hearings.