If someone you care about has been accused of a crime in Las Vegas, was arrested, and is now locked up in Clark County Detention Center, you are most likely desperate for information and advice on what to do next. CCDC's website will provide you with valuable information about a criminal defendant, including the person's case number and ID number, the name of the charge the person has been booked into CCDC on, what the current bail setting is, and the time, date, and department where the defendant is scheduled to make his first court appearance.
You may notice that your friend or loved one is scheduled to appear at a "48 hour hearing" in Justice Court. So what is the "48 hour hearing"? You might also see a listing of "72 hour hearing." What is this? Read below about these two types of hearings.
48 Hour Hearing
A 48 hour hearing is not actually a hearing in court at all. The 48 hour hearing is what is called an "in camera" hearing, meaning the judge, prior to the public calendar, reviews the case in his or her chambers (not in open court) and determines whether to adjust the bail setting. The defendant is not brought to court for the 48 hour hearing. This often leaves the defendant and his family confused given the information available through the CCDC website.
So why would bail be adjusted by the judge at the 48 hour hearing? Keep in mind, most criminal offenses in Las Vegas have an associated "standard bail," meaning that if you are arrested and booked into CCDC, the bail is set automatically. For instance, child abuse and neglect has a standard bail of $20,000 dollars. If you are arrested on this charge and want to be released from jail, you will have to pay a bondsman to write a $20,000 bond or you're going to be waiting to go to court. To learn more about how bail works, read my articles on bail reduction and general bail information.
The 48 hour hearing is the judge's first opportunity to consider bail setting in the case. Specifically, within 48 hours of your arrest, a Justice Court Justice of the Peace (judge) will look at all available information (usually just police reports) and determine whether the standard bail should be adjusted—either upward or downward.
So does bail frequently get adjusted at the 48 hour hearing? No. This is rare. You would be safe in assuming that your loved one's bail setting is not going to change after the 48 hour hearing. When can bail be adjusted at the 48 hour hearing? This only occurs in certain Justice Court departments where the judge is willing to call the case (even though the defendant may not be present in court) and hear argument from the defense attorney that bail should be reduced or the defendant should be released on his own recognizance. Some departments allow this, others don't. For all practical purposes, if you are facing charges in Las Vegas Justice Court, you will be waiting for the 72 hour hearing if you don't bail out.
72 Hour Hearing
So what is the 72 hour hearing? The 72 hour hearing is the defendant's first opportunity to appear before the court in person (or over video court in some departments) and it is the criminal defense attorney's first genuine chance to get his client's bail reduced or otherwise argue for own recognizance release.
This hearing is established by state law, namely NRS 171.178(3), which provides that a person must be brought before a magistrate (judge) within 72 hours within arrest. Obviously, this hearing occurs 24 hours after the 48 hour hearing (48 plus 24 equals 72).
Keep in mind, a criminal defendant charged in Justice Court often languishes in CCDC longer than 72 hours after his arrest waiting for a court date. Why? Because "72 hours" means 3 judicial days, not 3 calendar days. Judicial days are days when the Clark County courts are open for business, so holidays and weekends don't count toward the 72 hours. That's why if you get arrested over the weekend in Las Vegas, you will wait two days longer for your day in court.
At the 72 hour hearing, your defense attorney will pick up from the District Attorney a copy of the Criminal Complaint (which states the formal charges) and a discovery packet including the police reports. These documents are essential for your attorney to make his best argument for bail reduction or own recognizance release.
Also at the 72 hour hearing, there will be a one-page report from Pretrial Services. Pretrial services is an independent organization that helps the courts by investigating and verifying certain information about criminal defendants, specifically information relevant to the defendant's custody status. In the time between the defendant's booking and his 72 hour hearing, Pretrial Services should have interviewed the defendant in custody (although unfortunately this does not always occur).
The Pretrial Services report contains the defendant's address (if he has one and it can be verified), the defendant's current employment (again, if he is employed and this can be verified), and the length of time the defendant has at his home and job. The report also contains information about the defendant's criminal record, including any "failures to appear." Sometimes this information can be inaccurate or incomplete.
In an ideal situation, your criminal defense lawyer should already know all of the information listed above (and more) before he walks into the 72 hour hearing trying to get you released. The more information the defense attorney knows about the case, the more complete and effective his argument will be. The 72 hour hearing is the defendant's best chance to get released, or at least get bail reduced. Why is that? Bail seems to have inertia once it is set. What I mean is, once the bail is set, it's usually going to stay there. The way the judge sees it, he's already looked at the facts and made a decision. Why would he second guess himself? That's why the 72 hour hearing is an important opportunity that the defendant should not squander.
What can the defendant do to help his chances? First, the defendant should hire a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with Las Vegas and Clark County Courts. Second, the defendant should be fully honest with the defense attorney about the facts of the case and any record he has. To omit pertinent negative information is to leave the defense attorney unprepared and susceptible to attacks from the prosecutor on grounds that he does not know his own client and/or isn't familiar with the facts of the case.
Hopefully reading this article has helped clear up some of your confusion regarding the 48 hour hearing and the 72 hour hearing in Justice Court. Dealing with criminal charges can be overwhelming, and oftentimes just having information about the criminal justice process can help greatly.
If you still find yourself confused after reading this article, or you want to hire a criminal defense attorney for an upcoming 72 hour hearing, call or text me right now. I have successfully argued for the bail reduction or own recognizance release of countless individuals charged with serious crimes in Justice Courts in Las Vegas and throughout Clark County. I always offer free consultations for potential clients and their families and friends so don't hesitate to contact me.