When an indictment or information is submitted to the court, it needs to contain information detailing facts about the defendant’s behavior that constitute a crime. It also needs to contain references to the specific statutes, regulations, and rules that the defendant allegedly violated. Nevada law requires the indictment or information to be concise and written in clear plain language. When an indictment or information is submitted, the court can act on it and a criminal case can move forward against the defendant.
A defendant can begin building a defense based on the information contained within the indictment or information. This means that if a prosecutor decides to change the details contained within it, a defendant can be at a disadvantage. There are procedural rules regarding when a prosecutor can modify an amendment. There are also rules regarding when a prosecutor can introduce notice of habitual criminality, which could affect a defendant’s sentence.
A Las Vegas criminal defense attorney can explain the requirements for an amendment of an indictment or information as well as the limitations of a prosecutor’s ability to make changes. An attorney can also assist in arguing against an amended indictment, or in otherwise providing assistance to defendants in responding to accusations.
The basic rules for amendment of an indictment or amendment of an information are found in Nevada Revised Statute Section 173.095. According to the relevant code section, the court can permit an amendment of either an indictment or an information at any time before a verdict has been reached. Amendment can be permitted if no additional offense is charged and no different offense is charged. However, an amendment will not be permitted if allowing the change would prejudice substantial rights of the defendant.
Whether an amendment prejudices your substantial rates will vary depending upon the circumstances. When a prosecutor files a motion to amend an information or indictment, your Vegas criminal lawyer who is representing you can help you to determine how best to respond to the court filing.
Nick Wooldridge has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in Nevada.
Another step a prosecutor can take after an indictment or information has been submitted to the court is to file notice of habitual criminality. A prosecutor can file this notice if the indictment charges a primary offense that a charge of habitual criminality can be based on.
Nevada Revised Statute Section 207.010 defines habitual crimes to include felony offenses. Under the habitual crime laws in Nevada (which are commonly called three strikes laws), a person who is being prosecuted for a felony offense with two prior felony convictions can be considered a habitual offender and conviction will result in punishment for a Category B felony. This means a minimum prison term of five years and a maximum prison term of 20 years. If a person is considered a habitual offender with three prior felony convictions, he shall be punished for a category A felony, which could result in imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole.
Three strikes rules, or rules aimed at imposing harsh punishments on repeat offenders, are widely criticized because defendants often end up with lengthy prison terms or a life sentence for non-violent and relatively minor offenses. The laws contribute to overpopulation in prisons, to disproportionate sentencing within the criminal justice system, and to a host of other societal problems. Yet, the laws remain on the books in Nevada and defendants need to fight aggressively to avoid losing decades of their life to imprisonment if they are repeat offenders.
LV Criminal Defense has extensive experience providing legal representation for clients and we bring this experience to your case. Whether you want to try to avoid being convicted as a habitual offender or are simply fighting against an amendment to your indictment, our legal team is here to help. Give us a call as soon as you become involved in a case in the Nevada criminal system so we can start fighting for you.