When a prosecutor wishes to proceed with legal action against a criminal defendant, the prosecutor has to file initial pleadings with the court. The initial pleadings can be an indictment, which is handed down by a grand jury after the grand jury has heard evidence and determined there is probable cause a defendant committed a crime. The initial pleadings can also be an information, which is submitted to a judge after waiver of a preliminary hearing or after a preliminary hearing before a Justice of the Peace.
There are strict rules related to the form of indictments or information, as well as rules detailing when an indictment or an amendment may be modified. Defendants need to know these rules, because defendants have a Constitutional right to due process. If prosecutors do not follow the letter of the law when it comes to making allegations and submitting court paperwork, defendants may be entitled to remedies up-to-and-including the dismissal of charges agains them.
LV Criminal Defense is a law firm in Las Vegas that is focused 100 percent on criminal cases. Our legal team understands all of the rules of criminal procedure and we have made it our mission to ensure defendants are able to navigate the criminal justice system as successfully as possible. We not only assist with investigations aimed at undermining evidence, plea negotiations with prosecutors, and defense strategy development, but we also understand the procedural rules and ensure that prosecutors obey the letter of the law. We will find every possible way to get a case dismissed or charges dropped when prosecutors fail to follow the rules. Give us a call to learn more if you are facing indictment, if an information has been filed with the court, or if you are concerned about pending criminal proceedings that could be coming in the future.
Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 173 contains different statutes which set forth all of the rules that prosecutors must follow when seeking to bring criminal charges against a defendant. These rules address both indictments and situations where a prosecutor seeks to move forward based on an information.
The first part of N.R.S. Chapter 173 addresses the general procedure related to indictments and information. These code sections, found in N.R.S. 173.015 through N.R.S. 173.065 deal with things like electronic filing and requirements for preliminary hearings before a court can act on an information.
The second part of N.R.S. Chapter 173 deals with other very important matters related to an indictment or information. N.R.S. 173.075 through N.R.S. 173.105 provide details on the required form an indictment or information must take, and provide details on what the contents of these pleadings must entail.
According to N.R.S. 173.075, an indictment or information must be a “plain, concise and definite written statement.” It must set forth the essential facts that a prosecutor is using to base the allegations on. The facts that are included must show that the offense the defendant is being charged with was actually committed.
The indictment or information has to be signed by a district attorney or by the Attorney General. It does not have to include a formal conclusion or commencement, although it does have to state- on its face- what wrongful acts the defendant allegedly committed that constitute a criminal offense.
The indictment or information not only has to provide details on facts that constitute a crime, but must also provide details on the law. For each criminal count the defendant has been charged with, the indictment or information has to provide a citation for the statute, regulation, rule, or other provision of law the defendant is accused of breaking. However, a mistake in the citation will not be grounds for dismissal as long as the error does not prejudice the defendant.
When an indictment or an information has been submitted to the court, there may be circumstances where the prosecutor subsequently decides to change information contained within the pleadings. N.R.S. 173.095 allows for an amendment of an indictment or information any time before a verdict or before a finding, as long as the substantial rights of the defendant are not prejudiced by the amendment.
Nick Wooldridge has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in Nevada.
In some cases, a defendant may be charged with habitual criminality as a repeat offender. If an indictment is found charging a defendant with an offense that would be the basis of a habitual criminality designation, a prosecutor can file a notice of habitual criminality with the court. This is also permitted after an initial indictment or information has been filed.
Finally, if a defendant has been charged under a fictitious name or under the correct name. N.R.S. 173.105 allows for a change to his real name to be made and the real name inserted into subsequent proceedings at any time once the defendant’s true identity is discover.
If an indictment or an information has been submitted to the courts, the pleadings contain details that are invaluable for a defendant. The details a prosecutor provides on the facts of the case, on the criminal counts a defendant is being charged with, and on the law being cited will give defendants a roadmap of how the prosecutor plans to move forward.
Based on the details that the information or indictment provides, a defendant can start taking steps to try to undermine the case against him. A defendant can try to disprove so-called facts stated by the prosecutor and presented as evidence of wrongdoing. A defendant can also try to argue that his actions were not a violation of the laws he has been accused of breaking since a prosecutor cannot prove every element of the particular crime. Since the burden of proof is on the prosecutor to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, all a defendant must do is raise legitimate questions about the case and convince a jury to doubt the veracity of the prosecutor’s evidence.
A Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer at LV Criminal Defense will carefully review an indictment or information and will begin the process of trying to build the most strategic defense possible to undermine the prosecutor’s case. Give us a call to learn more as soon as you face charges