Articles Tagged with Nevada Bail Laws

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.

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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