Defendants who are arrested and who are charged with violating the law will attend a bail hearing as one of the first steps in the criminal justice process. The purpose of this bail hearing is to make a determination on whether the defendant should stay in custody pending the completion of his case, or whether the defendant should be released and required to come back to court at a later date in order to face charges.
The bail hearing will also address the question of whether the defendant will be released without posting collateral- released on his own recognizance (ROR)- or will be released only after posting bond to guarantee his or her return at a designated date. If a defendant is ordered to post bail but is unable to pay the required amount, or unable to work with a bail bondsman, the defendant will need to stay incarcerated until the case has been resolved. If a defendant is denied bail, the defendant will also remain imprisoned until the conclusion of the case.It can take weeks or months for a case to proceed to court and for a final decision to be reached. It is imperative that the bail system be fair and effective to give defendants a reasonable opportunity to be released while awaiting trial. It is also important for defendants to be represented by a skilled and experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer at a bail hearing so the defendant will be best able to make a convincing argument for why he should be released on ROR or for a low amount of money that is affordable.
Is the Bail System in Nevada Fair?
In October, News 4 reported that a committee in Nevada’s Supreme Court is considering alternatives to the current bail system. The committee was established to consider alternatives to the traditional bail requirements because the Department of Justice as well as District Courts in other locations such as Alabama have questioned whether it is legal to have a system that only allows for the release of defendants who have a sufficient amount of money to pay bail and/or a sufficient amount of assets to secure a bail bond.
The Committee is conducting research on the issue, and initial reports indicate most courts within the state of Nevada do not make use of risk assessment tools in setting bail. Risk assessment tools, which are in use in other states including in Colorado, take many factors into account in assessing whether a defendant is a flight risk or whether bail should be granted for a defendant. These risk assessment tools have been beneficial in other jurisdictions in helping to reduce the number of people who fail to appear on their assigned court date. The use of the systems could be a more unbiased method of determining when someone should be released on bail.
The Las Vegas Sun also reported that the Committee considering changes to the bail system conducted further study to determine if there is racism inherent in the bail system. While the research did not reveal a disparity or discrimination based on race, the system did reveal significant differences between Clark County and Was hoe Counties in terms of who is able to be released on bail.The news is not all bad- 56 percent of people who are awaiting trial are able to pay bail and be released from incarceration. However, this still leaves a large percentage of people waiting in jail for their day in court to come. As of October 2015, there were 3,785 inmates in jail in Las Vegas, with 85 percent spending at least eight days behind bars. Of those in jail, 60 percent had not had a bail amount set and36.6 percent were not able to make the required payment for release.
You want to ensure you get your bail set quickly, and at an amount you can afford, as soon as possible after you are arrested. A Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer can provide help in fighting for a reasonable bail order so you can get back home and out of prison after an arrest.