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Reporting Testimony of Witnesses

Vegas Criminal Attorney Describes Recording of Witness Testimony in Nevada N.R.S. 171.198

testimony of witnessesDefendants who are taken into custody in Nevada have the right to a preliminary hearing within 15 days of their initial appearance before a magistrate, unless they waive that right. At this preliminary hearing, defendants may present witnesses and may cross examine witnesses who testify for the prosecution. The defendant’s goal at the hearing is to make it impossible for the prosecutor to present enough credible evidence to create sufficient probable cause to move forward with a criminal prosecution.

Because witnesses can testify during this preliminary examination, recording the testimony the witnesses give is very important. Nevada’s laws on criminal procedure set forth the process for reporting on witness testimony. Defendants must be aware of these laws, and must also understand how to review witness testimony so they can look for ways to introduce doubt as criminal proceedings move forward.

LV Criminal Defense has represented many clients  in preliminary examinations, and can help to ensure that the appropriate procedures are followed so your rights are protected. Our experienced Las Vegas legal defense team can also provide invaluable assistance in looking for ways to undermine a prosecutor’s key witnesses if your case moves beyond the preliminary examination phase. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the assistance we can offer.

Rules for Reporting the Testimony of Witnesses 

Nevada Revised Statute Section 171.198 provides details on how court records must be created during a preliminary examination.  The relevant statute says the general rule is that a magistrate must hire a certified court reporter to record all aspects of the proceedings during a preliminary examination or preliminary hearing.  In particular, the court report should take down a detailed report of testimony of witnesses. At an appropriate time designated by the court, this reporting of the proceedings should be transcribed into a typewritten transcript.

Subsection 2  of N.R.S. 171.198 establishes an exception to the general rule for preliminary hearings in justice court in all cases except for those in which the death penalty is sought. The exception allows for the magistrate to choose to appoint someone to use sound recording equipment to record the proceedings, instead of requiring the magistrate employ a certified court report to take down the information.  Once the recording has been made, the information still must be transcribed.

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If there are omissions or mistakes in the transcript, either the prosecutor or defendant can make a motion to the court to add to the transcript, delete from it, or otherwise correct it so it accurately reflects testimony that was actually given.

The court reporter who takes down and/or transcribes the information must certify the transcript to authenticate it. The authenticated transcript must be examined by a magistrate and then filed with the clerk of the district court within the county. A copy of the authenticated transcript must be provided to the plaintiff and defendant, and the defendant may subsequently use the testimony in later court proceedings.  The State can also use the testimony if the defendant was represented by a lawyer or waived his right to a lawyer.

The transcript may become useful as evidence to enter into further criminal proceedings if a witness who initially testified is sick, passes away, has left the state, or refuse to testify despite a court order.

How a Las Vegas Criminal Attorney Can Help 

It is very important to ensure the record is accurate, and to understand how and why the record can be used. An experienced Vegas defense lawyer at LV Criminal Defense can help to ensure that all appropriate protocols for the creation of a transcript are followed in your criminal case.  Your attorney can also carefully review witness testimony from the preliminary examination to help prepare a defense strategy to use in your criminal trial.

To learn more about the ways in which this court record can be helpful to you and to get started putting together the legal strategy you will use to fight conviction on criminal charges, call LV Criminal Defense today.

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