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What is an “arraignment” in Nevada criminal court?
A Nevada arraignment hearing is typically the first court appearance in the life of a criminal case. It is where charges are formally brought against the defendant and where the accused enters an initial plea.
1. What takes place at a Nevada arraignment hearing?
An arraignment in Nevada is a court hearing where the prosecution formally brings criminal charges against a defendant.1
It marks the beginning of a criminal case, and the prosecution gives the defendant (or defense attorney) a copy of all the evidence it has against the accused. This evidence is called “discovery.”2
What is an "arraignment hearing" in Nevada?
2. Does the defendant enter a plea?
Yes. If the defendant faces misdemeanor charges, he/she enters an initial plea at the arraignment.
Typically, defendants will enter a “not guilty” plea, and then the defense attorney and prosecution will try to reach a plea deal over the next several weeks or months. If they cannot agree, the defendant has the choice to go to trial.
Alternatively, if the defendant is facing felony charges, he/she can either enter a not guilty plea or ask for a “preliminary hearing“.
A preliminary hearing is like a mini-trial where the prosecution has to prove to the court that they have enough evidence to bring criminal charges and have an actual trial. During that time, the defense attorney and prosecution can still try to reach a plea deal in an attempt to avoid trial.
It is essential that people facing charges either show up for their arraignments or hire defense attorneys to appear for them. Missing an arraignment date will prompt the judge to issue a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest.
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, 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.