If you have been found guilty of a Nevada crime, a punishment will be imposed upon you by a judge. The punishment for a criminal conviction is called a sentence. The court hearing where the judge gives you your sentence is called the Nevada sentence hearing.
Nevada Revised Statutes 176.015 states that after a criminal conviction, "Sentence must be imposed without unreasonable delay." For misdemeanor criminal convictions, a Nevada sentence hearing may take place shortly after a criminal defendant has entered a guilty plea or was found guilty and only last minutes.
For felony criminal convictions, the sentencing hearing may not occur for three or more weeks to give your attorney ample time to prepare for the hearing. For more serious crimes such as felonies, a sentence hearings may span several hours.
However, sentencing may be delayed if you file a motion for a new trial or if the court needs time to make a determination about the criminal defendant's mental competency.
At a Nevada sentence hearing, criminal defendants have many of the same rights as they do at trial including:
- The right to be present at the sentencing
- The right to have an attorney represent them
- The right to present evidence
- The right to propose an alternative sentence (read our article, "Can I serve my Nevada jail sentence at home?"
Before the sentence hearing, a presentence report is created by the Nevada Department of Probation and Parole and the delivered to the judge. During the sentencing hearing victims are allowed to speak before the judge, and both the defense lawyer and district attorney can present their arguments.
At a Nevada sentence hearing, a criminal defense lawyer may offer "mitigating factors" as arguments to reduce your sentence. Mitigating factors include any information that may influence a judge to impose a lighter sentence, such as:
- Childhood neglect or abuse
- Evidence of good citizenship and benefit to the community
- Evidence of mental illness
- Evidence of reduced mental capacity at the time of the crime due to drugs/alcohol
Taking all this into consideration, the judge then imposes a sentence of fines, a jail or prison term, and/or any other terms. The sentence can be appealed a sentence to the Nevada Supreme Court. If you want to appeal, you will need an experienced criminal attorney. Contact us to represent you in your case. (Also see our article, Four Things to Know Before Entering a Guilty Plea in Nevada.)