At a “bail hearing” in the Nevada court system, a judge decides whether or not to release individuals who have been arrested while their criminal case is still pending. Those who do not pose a flight risk or a threat to public safety have a higher likelihood of being granted a bail release, or even an own recognizance release with no bail required.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What happens at bail hearings in Las Vegas, Nevada?
- 2. When do bail hearings occur?
- 3. Where do they occur?
- 4. How do I win bail hearings?
- 5. What happens to my bail money?
1. What happens at bail hearings in Las Vegas, Nevada?
Bail hearings are where judges in a criminal case determine whether you can be released on bail after being arrested for a criminal offense.
During the hearing, your Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer tries to persuade the judge that you are not a flight risk or a public safety threat. Meanwhile, the deputy district attorney may try to argue that a high bail is necessary to ensure that you will appear at all future court dates.
After your defense attorney and prosecutors argue their sides, the criminal court judge may rule in one of five ways:
- release you without having to pay any bail at all (on your own recognizance, or “O.R.”),
- lower the bail amount, thereby increasing the likelihood that you can afford to bail out,
- make no changes to the amount of bail,
- increase the bail amount, or
- not release you at all.
As a general rule, judges are likely to grant O.R. release or low bail amounts to first-time offenders facing misdemeanor charges. Higher bails are reserved for more serious felony cases or repeat offenders.
Bail hearings are also where the judge determines what rules you have to follow while out on bail or on your own recognizance. For example, some defendants are required to surrender their guns, avoid contact with the victim, and get permission ahead of time before they travel for as long as their criminal case is open.
Note that you are not required to speak to the judge, and your Las Vegas bail hearing attorneys can do all the talking on your behalf. It is also typical for your attorneys to have a Nevada bail bondsman present at the hearing to expedite the bailout process (if the judge grants your release).1
2. When do bail hearings occur?
Usually, your Nevada criminal defense attorney will request a bail hearing as soon as possible after your arrest in the hopes of getting you released quickly. In many cases, the judge will agree to hold a spontaneous bail hearing right after the arraignment/72-hour hearing.
3. Where do they occur?
Las Vegas judges hold bail hearings in their courtrooms. But sometimes the hearings are held over video conference so inmates do not have to be transferred to court from the Clark County Detention Center or Las Vegas City Jail.
4. How do I win bail hearings?
Your Las Vegas bail hearing lawyer‘s goal is to show the judge that you are not a danger to the community and are not going to become a fugitive.
In order to demonstrate that you pose no danger to anyone, your attorney would present evidence that you:
- have no prior criminal record or a negligible criminal record;
- have no outstanding warrants and are not on parole or probation;
- have not been arrested for a violent crime;
- were not arrested with weapons in your possession; and
- have good reputation.
In order to show that you would never flee the country, your attorney would argue that you:
- have strong, long-term ties to the community (such as a job and family in town);
- never “no-showed” before at a required court appearance;
- have no immigration issues; and
- are willing to surrender your passport and wear a GPS tracker.
Las Vegas bail hearing attorneys may also call witnesses such as your employers, colleagues, family, friends, landlords, religious teachers or counselors to vouch for your character.
5. What happens to my bail money?
If you post bail and appear at all future required court hearings, the bail money will be returned to you at the end of the case – even if you get convicted.
Note that if you hired a bail bondsman, then the bail money would be returned to the bondsman. And you would be out the 15% fee you paid the bail bondsman.
- NRS 178.483 – NRS 178.548. See, for example, Las Vegas Justice Court bail schedule and Las Vegas Municipal Court bail schedule. See also Valdez-Jimenez v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of Nev. (2020) . See also Sewall v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court (2021) 481 P.3d 1249.