A deposition is a formal interview of a witness who will testify in trial. Depositions take place prior to the start of the trial proceedings. Depositions are common in civil cases during the discovery phase, as opposing sides interview the witnesses who will be testifying for their opponents. Depositions may also be utilized in criminal cases. In fact, under some circumstance, depositions may actually be used as evidence during trial; however, the opportunity to object to admissibility is available.
Understanding the Nevada rules for depositions in a criminal case is very important for defendants facing charges. You need to be prepared to ask the right questions in a deposition, and in certain situations you may wish to argue that a deposition should not be used against you. A Las Vegas criminal lawyer at LV Criminal Defense understands Nevada rules for depositions and can provide you with invaluable guidance. Our firm can conduct depositions, interview witnesses, and make arguments for why depositions should or should not be admissible. Give us a call as soon as you can so we can assist not only with depositions but with all other steps involved in preparing for a criminal trial.
Under the relevant Nevada code section, a deposition can be taken of a witness in a criminal case when a witness may be unable to attend a trial or a hearing. This can occur when a witness is older, is vulnerable, or is otherwise not practically able to come and testify personally in court.
To be defined as “older” for purposes of this Code section, the witness must be at least 70 or above. The definition of “vulnerable person,” on the other hand, is found in N.R.S. 200.5092. In this section of the Nevada code, a vulnerable person is defined as someone who is at least 18 who has a physical or mental condition caused by developmental delays; mental illness; brain damage; or developmental disabilities. A vulnerable person is also defined as a person who has physical or mental limitations that make it more difficult or impossible to perform normal activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing.
The court can also direct that a deposition should be taken if a witness is committed for failure to appear to testify or for failure to respond to a subpoena. After the deposition of the non-cooperative witness has been taken, the court will discharge the witness.
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If a deposition is to be taken, N.R.S. 174.185 requires that when someone will be deposing a witness, the other party must be provided with sufficient notice. For example, if a prosecutor is deposing a vulnerable or elderly person, the prosecutor has to provide the defendant with notice, as well as with details on the time and place where the deposition will be taken. N.R.S. 174.205 specifies the process for taking depositions, which is the same as the process in civil actions. Those who are being deposed will be under oath, just as they would if they were questioned in a courtroom.
Defendants have the right to an attorney during the deposition process and the court will appoint a lawyer if the defendant doesn’t already have one or does not decline one. If a defendant wants a deposition to be conducted but the defendant cannot pay for the costs, the court may direct the expense of court reporter fees and other costs to be reimbursed according to instructions in N.R.S. 7.135. Reimbursement is available for up to $500, exclusive of reasonable expenses, unless the trial judge or magistrate certify a larger reimbursement due to the unusual character or duration of services or unless the services were approved by the presiding judge.
According to N.R.S. 174.215, depositions are admissible in criminal cases only in limited circumstances. All or part of a deposition may be introduced as evidence in a trial or a hearing if:
Depositions can also be used by either a plaintiff or a defendant to try to contradict or impeach the testimony of the person who had been deposed. In other words, if answers differ from the deposition to the testimony provided at trial, a deposition can be introduced to demonstrate the discrepancy with the hopes of casting doubt on witness testimony.
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Preparing for depositions can be complicated, as can knowing exactly who you need to depose. It is imperative you not only understand the rules of criminal procedure associated with depositions but also that you make strategic choices about what questions to ask and who to ask them of.
You’ll also need to ensure that if you are ever deposed in any case, you are prepared to provide answers which allow you to avoid self-incrimination.
LV Criminal Defense is a trusted and experienced criminal defense law firm serving clients in Nevada and surrounding areas. Our legal team understands the rules of depositions and can help you to ensure you are taking advantage of the opportunity to depose witnesses during trial prep. We’ll ensure you ask the right questions and do everything possible to help undermine the prosecutor’s case against you and to build your defense. Not only can we assist you in understanding and preparing for depositions, but we can also depose witnesses for you as part of the development of a larger defense strategy and can argue against the admissibility of depositions which are unfavorable to you.
To learn more about how an experienced and knowledgeable Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer can assist you with depositions, give us a call today.