"Alternative Sentencing" in Nevada Criminal Cases
Explained by Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys

Every criminal conviction in Nevada carries potential jail time. Even speeding tickets can result in up to six months behind bars. But it may be possible to keep defendants out of custody as long as they complete an "alternative sentencing" program while out on a suspended sentence in Nevada.

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys summarize how "alternative sentencing" in Nevada works. Scroll down to learn what alternative sentencing is, how to qualify for it, and the available programs in Las Vegas.

What is alternative sentencing in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Like it sounds, alternative sentencing is an alternative form of punishment that Nevada judges may impose in lieu of traditional penalties such as jail and fines. Alternative sentencing is meant to help defendants learn to make better choices so they will not resort to crimes in the future.

Alternative sentencing in Nevada usually takes the form of either:

Note that defendants who are accepted into alternative sentencing programs are required to pay for any expenses associated with them. Doing community service is free, but fees for rehab or classes may run into hundreds of dollars.

Note that Nevada now permits courts to offer diversion, which is a kind of pre-prosecution alternative sentencing. The defendant completes a program, and the court dismisses the charge. Best of all, defendants who cannot pay can still participate in the diversion program.

Are all defendants eligible for alternative sentencing in Las Vegas, Nevada?

No. Alternative sentencing is typically available only to defendants convicted of certain misdemeanors in Nevada such as:

Note that Las Vegas also offers alternative sentencing for people convicted of a third DUI within seven years, which is a felony in Nevada.

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How can defendants get alternative sentencing in Las Vegas, Nevada?

Defendants (or their attorneys) usually need to request alternative sentencing from the judge in the case. And prosecutors sometimes offer alternative sentencing as part of a plea bargain.

In Municipal Court cases involving alcohol or drugs, defendants are first screened by the Las Vegas Municipal Court Evaluation Center. The judge will then consider their recommendations in deciding whether the defendant would benefit from alternative sentencing.

And in Municipal Court cases involving battery domestic violence, the court will order a Pre-Sentence Investigation of the defendant's criminal history. The judge will then use this information to determine whether to grant alternative sentencing.

What alternative sentencing programs are available in Las Vegas, Nevada?

The following are some of the alternative sentencing programs offered by Las Vegas Municipal Court:

Clark County Justice Court provides nearly identical programs to the ones listed above. In addition they offer the following:

  • Las Vegas DUI Court: DUI Court is an intensive alcohol rehabilitation program for people convicted of drunk driving without causing serious injuries. First- and second-time offenders may be eligible for Misdemeanor DUI Court in Nevada, while third-time offenders may do Felony DUI Court in Nevada.
  • AIDS Awareness Counseling: This class is targeted to defendants convicted of prostitution to educate them on how AIDS may be transmitted by sexual activity.
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Arrested? Call for help . . .

If you have been accused of a crime in Nevada, call Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). If the D.A. refuses to dismiss your case, your attorneys will try to get your charges reduced. You may be eligible for an alternative sentencing program in lieu of jail. And remember there is also the option of going to trial and fighting for a "not guilty" verdict.

Also see our article on discharge from probation in Nevada (NRS 176A.850).


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