Nevada bail rules permit people arrested for certain offenses to be released on their “own recognizance” without paying anything. But if they fail to show up to future court appearances in their case, they risk getting a bench warrant and charges for failure to appear.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys answer frequently-asked-questions about own recognizance release in Nevada. Click on a topic below to learn more.
- 1. What is “own recognizance” release?
- 2. How do I get it?
- 3. What are the rules of “own recognizance” release in Nevada?
- 4. What are the alternatives?
- 5. What if I miss a court appearance in Nevada?
1. What is “own recognizance” release?
Own recognizance release (OR Release) in Nevada is when a judge permits a person who has been arrested for a crime to be released from jail without paying bail. But there is a condition: The defendant promises to appear at all future court appearances in their case.
Note that if the defendant hires a defense attorney, this attorney may be able to appear on the defendant’s behalf for some of those court hearings.1
2. How do I get it?
There is a bail hearing in front of the judge where the judge determines whether to grant OR release or not. Courts grant defendants OR release unless the prosecution can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that bail is necessary:
- To ensure the defendant will appear up to future court hearings, and
- To protect community safety, as well as the victim and victim’s family
Some arguments the defense may present include the following:
- The defendant is trustworthy enough to show up to future court dates,
- The defendant is not a flight risk,
- The defendant is a responsible citizen,
- The defendant has contributed to the community,
- The defendant has family ties in the community,
- The defendant has professional ties in the community,
- The defendant is non-violent,
- The defendant will keep his/her distance from any victims in his/her case,
- The defendant has no or negligible criminal history,
- The defendant is financially solvent, and/or
- The criminal charges are minor enough to justify an OR release
Bail hearings can occur anytime during a criminal case while the defendant is incarcerated. Often the defense attorney requests a spontaneous bail hearing during another court appearance such as the 48-hour hearing (which typically includes the arraignment).
In more complicated cases, attorneys may request a special court hearing devoted solely to the question of granting OR. Depending on the case, bail hearings can last a few minutes to several hours.
3. What are the rules of “own recognizance” release in Nevada?
The main rule of OR release is that the defendant agrees to come to court for all future court hearings on their case.
At certain court hearings, the defendant’s attorney may appear in the OR-ed defendant’s place. But depending on the specifics of the case, the judge may impose other terms, such as:
- a no-contact order with any victims in the case,
- an order to stay away from certain areas of town, and/or
- an order to stay in the country or not travel out of state
4. What are the alternatives?
OR release is the best-case scenario for defendants facing criminal charges because it allows the defendant to escape incarceration without paying bail.
The next best option is for the judge to set bail, which allows the defendant to leave jail as long as they can pay up. If bail is too high for the defendant to afford, bail hearings are the time to ask the judge to reduce it.
The worst-case scenario is that the judge orders the defendant to remain jailed pending the outcome of the case with no opportunity of bailing out. This usually occurs in more serious cases involving:
- homicide crimes,
- substantial white-collar offenses,
- large-scale drug crimes, or
- cases where the defendant is a flight risk.
5. What if I miss a court appearance?
When an OR-ed defendant in Nevada misses a court appearance they (or defense counsel) were required to go to, the judge will issue a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest. This means the defendant will get arrested if they are ever pulled over by police and they see that they have an active warrant.
In some cases, police go out searching for defendants with bench warrants. However, this usually only happens if the defendant is facing serious felony charges.
If thirty (30) days pass following the issuance of a bench warrant and the defendant has not surrendered themself, the D.A. may press the additional charge of failure to appear:
- Failing to appear on a misdemeanor case in Nevada carries misdemeanor penalties of up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
- Failing to appear on a gross misdemeanor charge carries gross misdemeanor penalties of up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $2,000 in fines.
- Failing to appear on a felony charge carries category D felony penalties of 1 to 4 years in Nevada State Prison and possibly up to $5,000 in fines.
But if the defendant fled Nevada in order to escape prosecution, then they automatically face 1 to 4 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines even if their original charge was minor.2
Judges may grant probation in lieu of jail for failure to appear. But predictably, Nevada judges will probably never grant OR release again to defendants who failed to appear in court unless it was for a very good reason that was not their fault.
Arrested? Call an attorney…
If you or a loved one has been arrested in Nevada, it may be possible to get released on your “own recognizance” (O.R.). You pay no bail and can remain out of jail as long as you show up to court when necessary. Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for a consultation.
Facing charges in Las Vegas Justice Court? Go to our article on Las Vegas Justice Court bail schedule and procedures.
In California? See our article on California laws for O.R. release.
- NRS 178.484. See also Hanley v. State, (1969) 85 Nev. 154, 451 P.2d 852; Application of Wheeler, (1965) 81 Nev. 495, 406 P.2d 713.
- NRS 199.335. NRS 193.130. See also Woolsey v. State, (1995) 111 Nev. 1440, 906 P.2d 723.