Arrest – A law enforcement officer must have a warrant or probable cause to arrest you, meaning he or she must have reason to believe you have committed a crime. If you are arrested, you do have the right to remain silent, and you can be assured that anything you say will be used against you. You cannot be denied the right to contact an attorney.
Filing of Information or Complaint – This is a document filed by the prosecution listing the specific charges against you. The charges in the Complaint may not be the exact same charges on your arrest report. For instance, you may have been arrested for Solicitation. Upon investigation, the District Attorney may feel there is not enough evidence for that charge, and therefore, he may officially charge you with Trespass instead. It is up to the District Attorney to determine the official charges, not the police.
Initial Arraignment – The purpose of an Initial Arraignment is for the defendant to officially enter a plea (Guilty, Not Guilty, or No Contest.) You, or your attorney, will receive the Complaint at this appearance, if charges have been filed. If negotiations are possible, the judge may continue the arraignment to see if a plea agreement can be reached. Otherwise, a date will be set for the next hearing.
Discovery – Discovery includess all the information the prosecution has as evidence in your case. In a DUI case, discovery might include your BAC results and your arrest report. In a burglary case, it might include witness statements and pictures of clothes you wore that resemble those of the burglar. The prosecution is obligated to provide you and your attorney with all reports, statements, pictures, videos, they are using as evidence against you.
Plea Agreements – It is a little known fact that the majority of criminal cases end in a Plea Agreement. Plea negotiations can take place at any point between Initial Arraignment and the Trial. Our experienced attorneys will negotiate with the prosecution to get you the best possible deal. Plea Agreements usually allow the defendant to plead Guilty to a lesser offense that involves a lesser penalty or sentence.
Preliminary Hearing – Preliminary Hearings occur if you have been charged with a felony or gross misdemeanor. If you have agreed to enter into a Plea Agreement, it will likely be put on the record at this hearing. The purpose of this hearing is for a judge to determine whether the case should be moved to district court. All felonies and gross misdemeanors are handled at the district court level. Once the case is bound-over to district court, the process starts over with an Initial Arraignment in the lower level of that court.
Bench Trial – A bench trial is when the case is heard and decided by a judge instead of a jury. Bench trials are shorter than jury trials, and therefore less expensive. With the exception of jury selection, the trial process is relatively the same: evidence is presented, arguments are heard, witnesses can be called, and a verdict is rendered. Bench trials occur when the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor, which by definition carries a jail sentence of six months or less. If the crime charged carries a jail sentence of more than six months, the defendant is entitled to a jury trial.
Jury Trial – If the defendant is charged with a crime that involves the possibility of more than six months of incarceration, he or she is constitutionally entitled to a jury trial. A jury trial is a complex process that involves selecting a jury, presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, making arguments, and creating jury instructions. Once the entire case has been presented, the jury deliberates to render its decision. Whether the jury determines the defendant to be guilty or not guilty, the decision must be unanimous.
Sentencing – Whether the defendant has been convicted as a result of trial or has entered a into a guilty plea agreement, the sentencing is the hearing during which the consequences are issued. The guidelines for sentencing are mandated by law, but the judge does have discretion regarding whether or not to impose the minimum sentence, the maximum sentence, or a sentence in between. The sentence cannot be lower than the mandated minimum or higher than the mandated maximum.
Status Check – Often a sentence requires the defendant to take a class, pay restitution, or do community service. In these instances, the judge will set a date to check on the progress that the defendant is making on the requirements. The status check date may be set anywhere from 30 days after sentencing to six months after sentencing to one year after sentencing. If you have complied with the conditions of your sentencing, our attorneys will make this appearance for you, and your case will be closed.
Call a Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense attorney at (702) 731-0000 for a free consultation.