In this section, our attorneys explain Nevada’s criminal laws and legal concepts, A to Z
Yes, but only if there is the possibility of parole. People convicted in Nevada criminal court of crimes they committed while under 18 years old may never be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. If the crime did not result in a death, parole eligibility begins after 15 years in prison. If the crime resulted in one death, parole eligibility begins after 20 years in prison.
Not anymore. Nevada’s juvenile justice law changed in 2015 with the passage of Assembly Bill 267. In line with recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, this new Nevada law prohibits criminal courts from imposing life without parole sentences to juvenile offenders – even if they are adults by the time they get sentenced. In addition, the law requires courts when making its sentencing decision to consider how juveniles have less culpability than adults.1
As for defendants who had already been sentenced prior to this bill to life without parole for crimes they committed as juveniles, courts have the discretion to commute their sentences to life with parole.2
Note that defendants convicted of multiple non-homicide offenses committed as juveniles must also be offered parole if their sentences essentially add up to a prison term of life without parole.3
It depends on the case. If no death resulted, there must be a parole hearing after 15 years of prison. If one death resulted, there must be a parole hearing after 20 years of prison. Nevada law does not give guidelines on when to offer parole if more than one death occurred.4
Note that in 2017, the Nevada Legislature passed Assembly Bill 218 that permits courts to reduce these defendants’ mandatory minimum sentence by 35% after taking into consideration their age and rehabilitation prospects.5
People under 18 years old who allegedly break the law are typically charged in juvenile court. But juveniles can be certified as adults and transferred to regular criminal court in certain circumstances:
Juveniles of any age facing murder charges must be transferred to adult court.
Juveniles aged 16 or 17 must be transferred to adult court if the charges are for sexual assault or a firearm crime unless there is clear and convincing evidence that either:
Finally, judges have the discretion to certify minors 14 or older who allegedly committed a felony.6
Note that defendants convicted of crimes committed as juveniles can never be given the death penalty.7
The following serious crimes are category A felonies that potentially carry a sentence of life in state prison:
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A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.