Las Vegas Felony Charges/Offense – Criminal Lawyer Ross Goodman
List of Felonies
There are at least 5 different categories of felony ranging from E (least serious) to A (most serious). Regardless of which felony you are charged with, you are entitled to a trial by jury if you so wish.
Category E Felony Laws
These crimes are usually considered as non-violent offenses such as:
- Soliciting a child for prostitution;
- Criminal gang recruitment;
- A second offense of peeping with a camera or video recorder.
Penalties for Category E Felony
- 1 to 4 years in prison (most of the crimes are probationable)
- A fine up to $5,000
Category D Felony Laws
Considered as the second most minor class of felony:
- Involuntary manslaughter;
- Unpaid casino markers;
- 3rd degree arson;
Penalties for Class D Felony
- 1 to 4 years in prison;
- A fine up to $5,000.
Category C Felony Laws
The following are considered as “middle-ground” crimes:
- A 3rd offense of battery domestic violence;
- Grand larceny;
- Buying or receiving stolen goods;
- Violating an extended protective order.
Penalties for Class C Felony
- 1 to 5 years in prison;
- Fine up to $10,000.
Category B Felony Laws
Considered as the second most serious offenses, the typical crimes committed are:
- Voluntary manslaughter;
- Invasion of home;
- Grand larceny (value of property is $2,500 or more);
- 2nd degree kidnapping;
Penalties for Class B Felony
- 1 to 20 years in prison
- Maybe a fine depending on the crime.
Category A Felony Laws
Crimes committed in Category A Felony are the most egregious offenses such as:
- 1st or 2nd degree murder;
- 1st degree kidnapping;
- Sexual assault;
- Using a minor to create child pornography;
- Battery (with intent to commit sexual assault and that results in substantial bodily injury or is done by strangulation).
Penalties for Class A Felony
- Death (murder cases);
- Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole;
- Life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.
The Procedures of Felony Charges
The Initial Appearance
- Appearing before the Justice of the Peace or magistrate, the person charged should appear within 72 hours or 3 business days.
- The prosecutor would inform the court whether the charges have been filed during the appearance.
- A criminal complaint will be handed to the defendant and the court would ask if the defendant understand the charges.
- The court would determine if the defendant can retain a legal counsel at this time.
- The preliminary hearing date will be set by the court. If the defendant is in custody, the hearing would be scheduled within 15 days.
The Preliminary Hearing
One of the serious stages in the criminal system is the preliminary hearing and it would be important that the defendant has an experienced counsel. Preliminary hearing is a formal proceeding where the Justice of the Peace must be convinced by the prosecution that the defendant committed the crime proved by the evidences. The main purpose of preliminary hearing is to determine if there’s enough evidence which is necessary before going to trial. This procedure is also similar to probable cause hearing.
Proceedings that might happen at a preliminary hearing:
- Witnesses and evidences presented by the prosecution.
- Cross-examination of the witness by the defense.
- If the prosecution demonstrated a scintilla of evidence before the Justice of the Peace, the case will proceed to the District Court.
Indictment vs. Information
Indictment – a charging document approved by the grand jury. A grand jury is a secret proceeding where a jury hears evidence only from the prosecution side and makes a decision on whether there is enough evidence to proceed to a trial. The defense is not allowed to the grand jury proceedings and cannot present evidence at the proceeding. If the grand jury finds enough evidence they will give an Indictment.
Information – a sworn statement which accuses the defendant of committing some criminal act. The Information is presented by an authorized public official.
Indictment and Information are two methods that can be used to charge the defendant with a crime.
The Arraignment Hearing
Appearing in the court for initial hearing to answer the charges filed to the defendant is called an “arraignment”. It is important that you and/or your attorney show up to your arraignment. Ditching the arraignment will cause the judge to issue a bench warrant for your arrest.
- The defendant receives a formal notice of the charges.
- The defendant can plead whether he is guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere (no contest).
- If the defendant is in custody, the lawyer may also ask the judge for a bail reduction or your release.
- Pleading “not guilty” will then give the defendant another court date.
- The Court will schedule a trial, pretrial, or status check date depending on the defendant’s case. Nevada courts schedules a trial date 60 days after the arraignment. However, due to legal motions and other reasons, the defendant might not be tried within 60 days.
This law states that any defendant who is facing a possible sentence of more than 6 months in jail is entitled to a trial by jury. Anyone charged with a felony in Nevada automatically have the right to a jury trial. Trials that take place in Las Vegas Justice Court, the jury consists of 6 people. For District Court trials, the jury must consist of 12 people. The jury has to unanimously decide whether to find the defendant “guilty” or “not guilty” otherwise, it is a “hung jury” and the judge declares mistrial.
In cases of mistrial, the prosecution may either choose to:
- Start all over and prosecute the case again, or
- Offer a plea bargain to a lesser charge, or
- Drop the case completely.
Stages of a Jury Trial
- Jury selection or Voir Dire
- Opening statements
- Presentation of evidence (case chief), including examination and cross-examination of witnesses
- Closing arguments
- Jury deliberation
Jury trial is a very complicated process. However, a skilled criminal defense attorney knows how to pick for the right jurors and advance the right arguments in order to maximize the chances of a “not guilty” verdict or to induce prosecution to settle for a favorable plea bargain.