Sentencing Matters

Posted about 3 years ago. Applies to Nevada, 1 helpful vote



Presentence Investigation

If a jury or judge finds a defendant guilty following a trial or following the entry of a plea, the court will then sentence the defendant for the crimes he or she has been convicted of. In Nevada, in gross misdemeanor (occasionally) and felony cases, the defendant will be required to report to and be interviewed by the Department of Parole and Probation (Department) before sentencing. Following the interview process, the Department prepares a presentence investigation report. When the report is prepared, the Department provides the report to the court, the prosecution and the defense for review prior to the sentencing hearing. Perhaps the most important part of the report is the recommendations. The report contains the Department's recommendations for either a term of imprisonment sentence or for a term of probation. The Department's recommendations are advisory only to the court, and are not binding upon the court; however, the report may influence the sentence imposed.



Oftentimes a defendant will receive a sentence of probation, with a suspended underlying prison term. During the probationary period, the defendant will be supervised by a probation officer, who will make sure the defendant is in compliance with the terms of the probation. The court will place many requirements on a defendant during his/her probationary period. As an example, defendants on probation must allow a police or probation officer to search the defendant, his belongings or his residence at any time without first obtaining a search warrant, without probable cause, and without notice. The court might also order a defendant to pursue and obtain a high school general equivalency diploma (GED) if the defendant failed to graduate from high school. In addition, the court will likely order a defendant to submit to random drug testing.


Prison/Jail Sentence

If the court sentences a defendant to a term of imprisonment, the defendant will be sent to either a jail (if the crime is a gross misdemeanor) or to a prison (for felony convictions), depending upon the crime the defendant was convicted of. A court may sentence a defendant to a jail sentence for misdemeanor/gross misdemeanor convictions, and a prison sentence for felony convictions. Unless otherwise agreed to between the prosecution and defense in a plea agreement, or following trial and conviction, both the prosecution and the defense are entitled to argue for a jail/prison sentence they believe the court should impose upon the defendant. Then, following arguments by both sides, and also allowing the defendant to make a brief statement to express remorse, the judge determines the sentence, within certain statutory guidelines, that the defendant will receive (except in death penalty cases).

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