On April 9, 2020, the Nevada Supreme Court issued a published opinion in the case of Valdez-Jimenez v. Eighth Judicial District Court, 136 Nev. Adv. Op. 20.  This decision made an impactful change to the procedure and restrictions in place that allow Nevada Courts to issue cash bail decisions for individuals awaiting trial.  Bail decisions are, in theory, based on an individual’s flight risk and likelihood of future offenses should they be released pending trial – in an attempt to mitigate both the number of crimes being committed and prevent any speedbumps in the trial itself. As a result, a Judge’s choice to increase or decrease a cash bail amount has been based solely on the aforementioned factors.

However, in recent years the concept of cash bail has become one of great controversy. Those accused of crimes are theoretically entitled to a constitutional right of “innocent until proven guilty.” However, low-income individuals have been forced to spend their time in custody until trial simply because they have been unable to afford bail.  Meanwhile, people with financial means who are facing the same charges are allowed to defend the allegations against them while out of custody, simply because they have ability to post a cash or surety bond.

Two particularly topical bail decisions for Jose Valdez-Jimenez and Aaron Willard Frye were brought forward in Nevada, as both defendants had high cash bail amounts set pending their trial and had the petitions to reduce or vacate these amounts denied, even though the courts could not explicitly say why these amounts were set so high. Thus, after reviewing these cases earlier this month, the Nevada Supreme Court issued an opinion which set for a new set of cash bail standards to improve these decisions in a way that makes the Nevada process of justice as fair and equal as possible.

The current COVID-19 crisis is at the forefront of many Nevada citizens’ minds as individuals practice social distancing, wearing safety gear, and working remotely.  One demographic that might be overlooked at this time are individuals who are currently incarcerated. As this public health crisis has developed, it quickly became clear to those involved in the prison systems in Nevada that measures desperately needed to be taken to avoid the spread of the Coronavirus in these populations. While detention centers, jails and prisons have implemented precautions including health screenings, tracking of symptoms, increased sanitation measures and isolation rooms, inmates continue to test positive for COVID-19.

This is a result of jails and prisons generally housing a large number of inmates (most of which share close quarters living spaces) and limited medical staff. However, all incarcerated individuals and detention center employees still maintain a right to life and adequate medical care. As a result, prisons across Nevada have begun to implement a variety of progressive changes to release non-violent inmates with underlying health conditions in order to do their part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and “flatten the curve.”

This does not mean that all Nevada jails and prisons are opening their doors for anyone to leave as they please, but instead demonstrates that there is a recognized responsibility on behalf of law makers and law enforcement within the criminal justice system to protect the employees and inmates in their custody. During the onset of this crisis, numerous Nevada criminal defense attorneys began to make appeals to local government officials and the Courts on behalf of the rights of inmates in detention centers.

There are countless attractions, conventions and events that come to Las Vegas on an annual basis which draw large crowds. Among the notable occasions which attract huge crowds of tourists and out of town guests are the National Finals Rodeo, The Las Vegas Strip New Year’s Eve Celebration, NASCAR Weekend, the International Consumer Electronics Show and the Electric Daisy Carnival. These events are fantastic draws at exciting venues and are all extremely well organized and well run, giving rise to their extremely high ticket sales and draws at the gate.  However, as every visitor to Las Vegas is aware, Vegas is a “24 hour town.”  There are things to do all day and all night, both on the Strip and off.  In a city where the tourism board touts “what happens here stays here,” there are numerous opportunities not only to have safe family fun, but to get in trouble as well.  For an unfortunate few, the attraction of the lights of the Vegas strip can lead to things they wouldn’t typically do at home – – – staying out too late, consuming too much alcohol and partaking in activities outside of their daily routine can all too often lead to dangerous and scary consequences.   While it may be a slogan that “what happens here stays here,” many times the activities of tourists here to have a good time can lead to arrests and a trip to the county jail.

According to reports of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, during the 2016 Electric Daisy Carnival that occurred over the nights of June 17-June 20, more than 459,000 people crowded the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Law enforcement officers made 101 felony arrests, all of which were narcotic related, 5 misdemeanor arrests, 19 misdemeanor citations, 8 arrests for driving under the influence and 13 traffic accidents occurred.

Many individuals may choose to “enhance” their party experience by using substances that are not readily available and are illegal to possess.  Cocaine and ecstasy/MDMA, often times referred to as “molly,” two drugs that are closely associated with the party scene.  These substances are however, illegal to possess, use or sell in Clark County and throughout Nevada.  Possession of these substances leads to numerous arrests of tourists and travelers to Las Vegas.  The police can arrest you and transport you to jail, for simply being in possession of these drugs, whether you are selling them or not.  Worse, in some cases, Nevada Drug Laws allow the police to arrest and charge you with Trafficking of a Controlled Substance, based purely on the “weight” of the substance, even if it is simply possessed for personal use.

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In previous posts to this Blog, the law office of Hofland & Tomsheck has written information on the standardized bail schedules utilized by various Courts in Las Vegas and Clark County Nevada.  As with all things, this information is subject to change and updating.  On May 21, 2015, the Las Vegas Justice Court announced it was creating and releasing an newly updated Standard Bail Schedule for crimes withing its jurisdiction.  This applies to all felonies, gross misdemeanors, misdemeanors and other specific crimes.  This revised bail schedule becomes effective May 26, 2015.  When it goes into effect, all bookings into detention centers (“jails”) such as the Clark County Detention Center, will be governed by the new schedule.  Therefore, if you, or someone you know such as a loved one, is arrested anytime after 6:00 a.m. on May 26, 2015, their arrest and booking will be controlled by the new bail schedule.

The newly adopted STANDARD BAIL SCHEDULE changes the standard bail amounts in Las Vegas Justice Court which have been in effect since 2011.  The new schedule is as follows:

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“I wasn’t read my rights when I was arrested. Was the arrest legal?” “Can I be prosecuted if I was never read my rights?” This issue comes up often when people have their first contact with the police or are arrested. In fact, we are often asked questions related to this scenario after a client or their loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime. Here at Hofland and Tomsheck, we want to clear up any confusion related to the legality of reading ones rights as we fight to put unfortunate situations such as this behind clients or their loved ones.

When do the police have to read me my Miranda rights?

You have probably all watched a television program where the police take their suspect into custody. What do they always say? “You are being arrested for the Murder of Mr. Jones. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you. You have a right to an attorney…” In the world of television, the scene usually cuts and all of a sudden the lawyers are in Court with the suspect. In the real world, the workings of a person’s rights such as these, called Miranda rights, are much different. The name Miranda rights, comes from the 1966 United States Supreme Court case of Miranda vs. Arizona. In that Continue reading ›

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?  While that is the image that the powers that be in advertising have implemented as a clever way to get tourists to visit Las Vegas, the unfortunate reality is that in many cases, when a person acts outside the bounds of the law in Las Vegas, that person stays in Las Vegas – – in custody for a criminal offense.

While many individuals come to Las Vegas to take part in all that our 24 hour city has to offer and have no issues, many folks that visit our fair city step outside of the restraint they exhibit at home.  While vacationing in Las Vegas, many individuals do things they wouldn’t do at home – – such as staying out late, drinking alcoholic beverages and generally “letting loose.”  It stands to reason that this relaxed restraint can lead to activities a person may not take part in at home.  Overindulging in alcohol, depriving oneself of sleep and the like can cause a person to act in a manner which results in arrests or worse, criminal charges.

At the law firm of Hofland & Tomsheck, we consult weekly, if not daily, with people who have been arrested for such incidents.  Bar fights can lead to battery charges.  Spats with spouses can lead to charges of Battery Constituting Domestic Violence.  A desire to “party hard” can lead to possession of controlled substance charges.

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One question that is often asked by individuals consulting with our office when recently arrested for a crime has to do with the crime of Burglary.  Many people simply do not understand why they are booked on charges which include burglary.  Many people think that if they haven’t broken into a home or business, they can’t, or shouldn’t, be charged with the serious crime of Burglary.  This reaction is a natural one, given that when people hear the term “Burglar” they often get a mental image of the Hollywood cat burglar, clothed in all black, breaking into a business with a crowbar and sneaking out the back door with a shiny new television.  In Nevada however, there are literally thousands of different factual circumstances which amount to Burglary.

In Nevada, Burglary laws are contained in Nevada Revised Statute (“NRS”) Chapter 205, which covers “Crimes Against Property” and are specifically defined in NRS 205.060.  In contrast to the limited example of the cat burglar above, Nevada defines Burglary as occurring when someone enters any structure (such as a business, store, apartment, residence, home, house, room or a vehicle such as a car or truck) when the person entering has the intent to commit any of the following inside: larceny, assault, battery, obtaining money or property under false pretenses or any other felony.  Such a crime has serious consequences — Burglary is a category “B” Felony carrying the potential of 1-10 years in prison and a fine up to and including $10,000.00.

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One of the more common questions asked by people contacting my office after they, or a family member, has been arrested is – – “How much will bail be.”

While the State Court System in Las Vegas, more precisely in Clark County Justice Court, has had a “standard bail schedule” for many years, effective September 1, of 2011, the Court implemented a simplified system, which is commonly followed by Courts in Las Vegas when setting bail in criminal cases.

The Justice Court, Las Vegas Township STANDARD BAIL SCHEDULE can be found online and is often the main point of reference for judges setting bail in criminal cases.

The STANDARD BAIL SCHEDULE sets bail by individual offense or by level of offense, as identified in the Nevada Revised Statues (or “NRS”).

Some crimes have no standard bail and are typically referred to as “set in court” bail amounts.  In those instances, judges will traditionally listen to argument from the parties (the prosecutor and the defense attorney) before setting bail.  Among the offenses which are “set in court” amounts are:

Category “A” Felonies:

Category “A” Felonies are the most serious charges in Nevada.  By definition, a category “A” felony is any crime which can carry the potential of a life sentence.  They include the following crimes and offenses: MURDER, SEXUAL ASSAULT, FIRST DEGREE KIDNAPPING and HIGH LEVEL TRAFFICKING in a CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE; and

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1156821_handcuffsSo you’ve been arrested.  Or maybe your family member or loved one has.  It’s a scary thing to be taken into custody.  One of the most commonly asked questions of a criminal defense lawyer in Las Vegas is how to get out of custody after arrest.

The most common way to get out of custody after an arrest is by posting a bail or bond.  The purpose of bail is to ensure that the person posting the bail will return to Court. 

In ALMOST every case, a person charged with a crime is entitled to a bail and is able to post a bond.  This is a right that is carved out in our Nevada Constitution.  Article 1, Section 7 of the Nevada Constitution provides that “all persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties; unless for Capital Offenses or murders punishable by life imprisonment without possibility of parole when the proof is evident or the presumption great.”

I say in ALMOST every case because there are a few exceptions to a person’s entitlement to bail.  For instance, Nevada Revised Statute (“NRS”) 178.484 deals with a person’s right to bail before a conviction, as well as the exceptions to that right.  It states that “a person arrested for an offense other than murder of the first degree must be admitted to bail.”  However, according to NRS 178.484(2), a person who is arrested for a NEW felony while on probation or parole for a different offense must not be admitted to bail unless certain requirements are met.  Additionally, NRS 178.484(4) addresses when a person is arrested for First Degree Murder by saying “a person arrested for murder of the first degree may be admitted to bail unless the proof is evident or the presumption great by any competent court or magistrate authorized by law to do so in the exercise of discretion, giving due weight to the evidence and to the nature and circumstances of the offense.”  Finally, when a person fails to show up to Court, and a Bench Warrant has issued, that person can be held without bail pending the resolution of the case. 

In the vast majority of cases that don’t fall into the categories described above, the Nevada Legislature has told the Court what factors to consider when setting bail.  NRS 178.498 tells the Court that if a Defendant who has been charged with a crime is given bail, the bail must be set at an amount which in the judgment of the judge making the decision “will reasonably ensure the appearance of the defendant and the safety of other persons and of the community” taking into considerations such as “the nature and circumstances of the offense charged,” “the financial ability of the defendant to give bail,” “the character of the defendant” and “the factors listed in NRS 178.4853.”

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