In this section, our attorneys explain Nevada’s criminal laws and legal concepts, A to Z
Laws » Is it possible to get a sentence modified in Nevada?
It is an uphill battle for defendants in Nevada criminal cases to have their sentences shortened, but it is possible. Four methods of trying to get sentences shortened include:
A motion to modify a criminal sentence under NRS 176.555 is when a defendant (or his/her attorney) asks the court to change the sentence on the grounds that it was illegal. Three circumstances where a sentence may be unlawful are:
Defendants may file a motion to modify an illegal sentence pursuant to NRS 179.555 at anytime — there is no time limit.
An appeal is when a defendant asks a higher court to review the trial court’s ruling. In the same way defendants may appeal their convictions after being found guilty at trial, defendants can also appeal their sentences.
For example, defendants sentenced in Las Vegas Justice Court would appeal to the Eighth Judicial District Court. And defendants sentenced in the Eighth Judicial District Court would appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.
The general rule is that defendants have 30 days after the case’s entry of judgment to file a “notice of appeal.” At that point the court would prepare a “record” of the case (which includes transcripts of the proceedings, such as the sentencing hearing). Then the defendant would have 120 days to file the “appellate brief” that argues why the appellate judges should lower the sentence.
The prosecution has the opportunity to file a response, and then the defendant can reply to that response. The appellate court may elect to hold oral arguments: This is where the defense attorney and prosecution would argue for and against a sentence modification, respectively. Finally, the appellate court judges would decide either to affirm the original sentence or remand the case down to the trial court to modify the sentence.
Defendants may apply to the Nevada Pardons Board for a commutation (reduction) of sentence. There are four main situations where the Board may choose to commute a sentence:
Defendants typically have one year after the judgment of conviction to file a writ of habeas corpus with the Nevada Supreme Court. This writ claims that the defendant’s sentence is invalid because of either:
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.
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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: incarcerated, out ...