A Vegas Defense Lawyer Unveils Pre-Trial Motions and Pleadings in Nevada Under Chapter-174

In a criminal trial in Nevada, pleadings submitted to the court by the prosecutor include an indictment or information, or a complaint in justice court. Pleadings submitted by defendants include a plea of guilty, guilty but mentally ill, not guilty, and nolo contendere or no contest. There are no other pleas, demurrers or motions to quash permitted. According to Nevada Revised Statute section 174.075, any other objections or defenses that can be raised before trial have to be raised by either a motion to dismiss the charges or by a motion to grant some type of appropriate relief.

Determining if you should make any motions before trial can be complicated.  You need to be prepared to make motions and seek relief when appropriate for you to do so. LV Criminal Defense, a boutique Las Vegas criminal law firm, understands the rules for pre-trial motions and can help you to submit motions to the court that could potentially help you to achieve a desired outcome to your criminal proceedings.

You need a Las Vegas defense attorney to assist you not only in determining what motions are appropriate but also to follow all procedural rules and requirements for submitting motions to the court with strong arguments seeking relief.  Give us a call so we can help you to do everything possible before a criminal trial to get your case dismissed or to get court decisions made that will set you up to maximize your chances of a not-guilty verdict.

The Rules for Pleadings and Motions Before Trial

Under Nevada Law, the rules for pleadings and motions before trial can be found in Nevada Revised Statutes sections 174.075 to N.R.S. 174.145.

N.R.S. 174.095, for example, indicates that a defendant can raise any defense or objection by motion before trial, as long as a decision on the objection or defense can be made without a trial on the general matters at issue.  This means you can make a motion before trial to ask the court to address a wide variety of matters as long as deciding the issue would not involve deciding guilt or innocence of any aspect of the criminal act.

N.R.S. 174.115 sets the rules for when pre-trial motions have to be made. Generally motions must be made prior to entering a plea. However, it is possible to submit motions within a reasonable time after you tell the court how you intend to plead.

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One of the motions that could be filed according to N.R.S. 174.098, is a motion to have the court declare that the defendant is mentally retarded, which is defined to include situations where intellectual functioning is significantly below normal. The subaverage functioning must have manifested during the development period and can exist concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior.

When you make any motion, whether it addresses a declaration of mental retardation or any other pre-trial issue, the motion must be decided before trial unless the court orders that the decision be deferred for determination during the trial where the general issues are decided. There are some things, such as an issue of fact, that must be decided on by a trial by jury when a jury trial is required under the U.S. or Nevada Constitution or by state statute.

Some Motions Must be Made  & Defenses Raised Before Trial

In many situations, you have only a limited time frame in which to make a particular argument or raise a particular defense.

For example, N.R.S. 174.105 provides information on defenses and objections that have to be raised by motion or they may not be raised at all. If these defenses and objections are not raised by motion before the trial, you will lose the opportunity to make these particular objections or raise these particular defenses.  The defenses and objections that must be raised during the pre-trial phase include those based on defects in the institution of the prosecution or defects in the indictment, information or complaint.

The only exceptions are if your motion is based on insufficient evidence or jurisdictional issue, as you can address these defects even if you do not make a pre-trial motion.  It is possible to address lack of jurisdiction or failure of the indictment, information, or complaint to charge an offense at any time before the criminal proceedings are concluded.

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N.R.S. 174.125 also sets forth specifics on the kinds of motions that must be raised prior to trial so you do not lose the opportunity to make the motions you need to.  For example, all motions to suppress evidence, all motions for a preliminary hearing, all motions to get a transcript of former proceedings, and all motions for a trial with joint defendants to be severed have to be made before a criminal trial starts. If you wish to withdraw counsel and get a different attorney, you have to make this request before trial starts. You are also required to submit before trial any other motion that would result in a delay or postponement of the pending criminal case. The only exception to this is if there was no opportunity to make a motion before trial, or if the party making the motion was unaware of the grounds to make it before trial began.

The Pre-Trial Process and Double Jeopardy Rules

One of the most important issues that can arise in a criminal case deals with what happens when a case is dismissed, dropped, or resolved in some way. N.R.S. 175.085 deals with the rules for when double jeopardy kicks in to prevent a defendant from being tried again for the same crime.

When a defendant is formally acquitted or has been placed in jeopardy under an indictment, complaint, or information, the conviction, jeopardy, or acquittal can be a bar to a further attempt to take legal action against the defendant for the same offense, except in limited circumstances.  For example, if a jury is discharged or can’t give a verdict because of an accident or other cause, the case against the defendant can be tried again.

A prosecuting attorney can also voluntarily dismiss a complaint with the right to file another complaint in the future as long as the dismissal happens before a preliminary hearing for a felony or gross misdemeanor, or as long as the dismissal happens before trial if the crime is a misdemeanor.

Getting Help from a Las Vegas Defense Lawyer

The pre-trial process is very complicated and you do not want to lose the chance to make motions, raise objections, or raise defenses. Let a Las Vegas criminal lawyer help you to determine what you should do to protect your rights before a trial begins in earnest. Give LV Criminal Defense a call today so we can start on your case.