Forty-eight-hour hearings in Nevada are where judges review whether enough probable cause exists to continue detaining criminal suspects two judicial days after their arrest. Defendants do not attend these hearings, which are held in the judge’s chambers. Defendants who have not bailed out following their 48-hour hearing will then get arraigned at a 72-hour hearing, which they can attend along with their lawyer.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is a 48-hour hearing in Nevada?
- 2. Do defendants attend?
- 3. Can defense attorneys attend?
- 4. Can family attend?
- 5. Do “48 hours” include weekends?
- 6. Does everyone get a 48-hour hearing?
- 7. Can judges reduce bail at 48-hour hearings?
- 8. What if defendants cannot bail out?
1. What is a 48-hour hearing in Nevada?
The 48-hour hearing is where a judge (also called a “magistrate”) does a preliminary review of all the available information and evidence in a criminal case, which by that point usually includes only police reports. Then based on this information, the judge decides whether sufficient probable cause exists to continue detaining the suspect until the 72-hour hearing (where formal charges are filed).
If the judge finds that probable cause does exist, he/she then reviews whether the bail setting in the case is appropriate and whether to adjust it. If the judge does not find probable cause, the defendant will get released with no charges pending and with no bail required.1
2. Do defendants attend?
No. In fact, “48-hour hearing” is a misnomer because they are not really hearings because no one other than the judge and clerks are present. They are held in the judge’s chambers (called “in camera”), not in a courtroom (“open court”).
3. Can defense attorneys attend?
Usually not. Typically only the judge and clerks are present during 48-hour hearings. Note that prosecutors from the District Attorney’s Office do not attend these hearings either.
4. Can family attend?
No. So although the Clark County Detention Center (CCDC) inmate information site reveals when an inmates’ 48-hour hearing is, friends and family may not attend.
5. Does “48 hours” include weekends?
No. Unlike “calendar days,” judicial days do not include weekends, holidays, or other days that the court is closed. So a person arrested Friday night in Las Vegas on Memorial Day weekend does not get a 48-hour hearing until the following Wednesday.2
6. Does everyone get a 48-hour hearing?
Everyone who gets arrested in Nevada who cannot bail out – or chooses not to bail out – are entitled to a 48-hour hearing within two (2) judicial days of the arrest. No hearings are scheduled for arrestees who bail out within two judicial days of being arrested.3
7. Can judges reduce bail at 48-hour hearings?
It is rare for judges to change bail amounts during a 48-hour hearing. They are largely perfunctory proceedings. A few judges do open 48-hour hearings to the defense attorney and treat 48-hearings as a bail hearing: The criminal defense attorney will know when this is an option.
8. What if defendants cannot bail out?
Defendants who remain in custody following a 48-hour hearing will then get a 72-hour hearing, also called an “initial appearance.” Seventy-two-hour hearings serve as the arraignment, which is where the defendant is formally charged and given a copy of the complaint (listing the criminal charges). These hearings also serve as bail hearings, where the defense attorney can ask the court to lower the bail or grant O.R. release.
If the defendant is charged with only misdemeanors, the judge will then set a date for a trial or possibly a status check to see if both sides can reach a negotiation. If the defendant is facing a felony, the judge will then set a date for a preliminary hearing. Defendants who remain in custody are entitled to a preliminary hearing in two weeks.
Seventy-two-hour hearings are the first time the defendant sees a courtroom and a judge. (Though in some cases, the defendant is video-conferenced into the courtroom.) The defendant’s attorney may be present, and the defendant’s family is usually permitted in the courtroom.
Note that defendants who get released from jail prior to the 72-hour hearing might not have their arraignment for several weeks or months later. Also note that if the D.A. does not bring formal charges by the 72-hour hearing, the judge may decide to release the suspect.4
- See, for example, State v. Taylor, (July 6, 2019) NV District Courts – Trial Orders Eighth Judicial District Court of Nevada, Clark County, 2019 Nev. Dist. LEXIS 644. See also NRS 171.178.
- See NRS 1.130; Rules of the District Court of the State of Nevada, Rule 4. Nonjudicial days.
- See NRS 178.484. See also SB 235 (2023).
- See NRS 171.178; see NRS 174.015.