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How hard is it to get a sentence commuted in Nevada? (NRS 213)

Posted by Neil Shouse | Nov 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

It depends on the case. The Nevada State Board of Pardons Commissioners reviews applications for commutations, and they review each one on its own merits.

A Nevada sentence commutation in when the Pardons Board lessens a defendant's criminal sentence. A defendant's eligibility for a modified sentence depends on whether the defendant is presently:

  1. incarcerated,
  2. out on parole,
  3. sentenced to death, or
  4. sentenced to life without the possibility of parole

1. Commutation for prisoners

Nevada prisoners may be eligible for commutation unless they are up for parole less than one (1) year after the date of the next Pardons Board meeting. However, even prisoners who are eligible for parole soon may get considered for a commutation if they can demonstrate "extraordinary circumstances."

2. Commutation for parolees

In general, the Nevada Pardons Board can consider commuting the sentences for Nevada parolees if either:

  • the parolees already served at least ten (10) years of a life sentence; or
  • the parolees already served one-half of their non-life sentence

But note that the Board will not consider commuting these parolees' sentences if:

3. Commutation for prisoners sentenced to death

The Board may commute a defendant's death sentence down to a sentence that allows for parole if either:

  • the defendant was under 18 when he/she carried out the crime; or
  • the defendant was convicted prior to July 1, 1995

4. Commutation for prisoners sentenced to life without the possibility of parole

The Board may commute a defendant's sentence for life without the possibility of parole down to a sentence that allows parole if either:

  • the defendant was under 18 when he/she carried out the crime; or
  • the defendant was convicted prior to July 1, 1995

Applying for a commutation

Defendants seeking commutation may get applications from the Nevada Department of Corrections. The application requires the following information:

  • the defendant's name;
  • the Nevada court which convicted the defendant;
  • the punishment the defendant was sentenced to;
  • reasons that the Board should lessen the sentence; and
  • any other relevant facts

The defendant has to then submit the application to the Board no earlier than 90 days prior to the Board's next meeting. When the Board elects to consider a commutation application, it must let the district attorney and judge in the case know so the district attorney can provide a written statement about the case.

The general public can also supply input in support of or in opposition to a commutation through fax at 775-687-6736 or the mail at:

Nevada Pardons Board

ATTN: Office of the Executive Secretary

1667 Old Hot Springs Rd Suite A,

Carson City, NV 89706.

A commutation is granted whenever the governor and at least four (4) Board members agree to it.

Note that commutations are completely separate from pardons. A commutation lessens defendants' remaining criminal sentence. In contrast, a pardon "forgives" defendants of their past crime(s) after they already finished serving the criminal sentence.

In some cases, pardons can even restore a person's firearm rights. Commutation never restores gun rights. Learn more about applying for a pardon in Nevada.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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