Whether the defendant has plead guilty, or was found guilty by either a judge (misdemeanor) or jury (felony and gross misdemeanor), the presiding judge is responsible for handing down a sentence. For the various available penalties, see the classification of crimes section. Do not try and contact the judge directly regarding sentencing of the defendant. Express your concerns to your prosecutor, and, if a felony case, to the parole and probation officer.
A pre-sentence investigation is required for anyone who pleads or is found guilty of a felony, and is optional for those convicted of a gross misdemeanor. The pre-sentence report reviews the sentencing offense, the defendant's prior criminal history, employment, education, alcohol/drug abuse, and other factors in determining an appropriate range of punishment for the defendant. The judge is not bound to follow the recommendations contained in the pre-sentence report - rather, the judge uses the report as a basis for determining the appropriate punishment.
If you are a victim in a felony (and usually in a gross misdemeanor) case, you will be contacted by the Department of Parole and Probation for a sentencing statement and to determine any restitution to which you may be entitled. It is very important that you fill out the statement and return it to the parole and probation officer. Keep in mind that your statement will become part of the pre-sentence investigation that the judge will read.
In Article 1, Section 8 of the Nevada Constitution, the Legislature is charged with making laws providing that the victim of a crime, personally or through a representative, shall be:
Informed, upon written request, of the status or disposition of a criminal proceeding at any stage of the proceeding;
Allowed to be present at all public hearings involving the critical stages of a criminal proceeding; and
Allowed to be heard at all proceedings for the sentencing or release of a convicted person after trial.
A victim's right to be heard at the time of sentencing (any type of crime) is found in the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS). NRS Section 176.015 provides:
Before imposing sentence, the court shall afford the victim an opportunity to appear personally, by counsel or by a personal representative and reasonably express any views concerning the crime, the person responsible, and the impact of the crime on the victim and the need for restitution.
Additionally, the prosecutor must give reasonable notice of the sentencing hearing to the person against whom the crime was committed; a person who was injured as a direct result of the crime; the surviving spouse, parents or children of a person who was killed as a direct result of the crime; and any other relative or victim who requests in writing to be notified of the hearing.
The court can order restitution against a defendant who is found guilty. Acceptable restitution includes direct costs to pay for medical bills, property damage and unrecovered stolen property. In order for the court to order the defendant to make restitution, you must provide your prosecutor with copies of your bills and/or estimates for replacement or repair. If the crime is a gross misdemeanor or felony, you should also provide those documents to the parole and probation officer who is doing the pre-sentence report.
The court cannot order restitution for such things as pain and suffering or future loss of earnings. If you have insurance that has paid your bills or damages, usually the only costs you can recover are your deductibles. If your case involves a large amount of damages, you may want to consider contacting a private attorney and filing a lawsuit against the defendant in civil court.
Unfortunately, many times criminal defendants do not have the financial means to make restitution, especially if incarcerated at sentencing. Do not be surprised if the defendant fails to comply with a court order to make restitution. If a defendant fails to make restitution that was a condition of his/her probation, that failure can be considered grounds for revocation of the probation.
The State of Nevada has a program to compensate victims of violent crime. The compensation may be awarded for medical bills, psychological counseling, lost wages, funeral and burial expenses. You cannot be compensated for property loss, legal fees, phone bills, living expenses or pain and suffering. For an application form, contact the Victim of Crimes Program; 4600 Kietzke Lane 1-205; Reno, NV 89502-5000; telephone (775) 688-2900; or 555 East Washington Ave. Suite 3200; Las Vegas, NV 89101; telephone (702) 4862740.
For a victim of a sexual offense, there are other assistance programs. Counties are responsible for payment of sexual offense examinations and medical care for any physical injuries resulting from the offense within 72 hours after the victim arrives for treatment. Additionally, the county can pay up to $1000 for counseling costs. Contact your prosecutor if you have any questions regarding this provision. (NRS 449.244; 217.290; 217.480)
A defendant who is convicted of a crime has the absolute right to appeal that finding of guilt. If the defendant has been convicted of a misdemeanor, the initial appeal is to a district court judge. If the defendant has been convicted of a gross misdemeanor or felony, the initial appeal is to the Nevada Supreme Court. Keep in mind that there are several levels of appeals, and thus your case may not have final resolution for some time. Ask your prosecutor about any appeals in your case.
There are other sections in the Nevada Revised Statutes that provide for victim's rights. Below is a compilation of various chapters in the NRS that provide for some of those rights. This is not a comprehensive list of those rights. Please contact your prosecutor if you have any questions regarding your specific rights.
NRS 62.193 (12)
Provides in a case where the defendant is a juvenile that the prosecutor, if so requested, must disclose to the victim or a parent or guardian of a victim, the disposition (sentence of the case).
Provides a hearing to revoke probation and modify a defendant's sentence, and that the Division of Parole and Probation must notify the victim of the proposed changes and the victim has the right to be heard at the hearing. The victim must request such notification, in writing to the Department of Parole and Probation.
Provides that during a criminal case, the court must provide a secure waiting area for victims and witnesses. This statute also provides that a court or law enforcement agency which has custody of stolen or other personal property belonging to a victim or witness shall, upon written request, make available a list of the property being held in custody unless disclosure or identity of the evidence would seriously hamper the investigation. Additionally, the property must be returned when it is no longer needed for evidence.
Provides that, upon written request of the victim, the prosecutor, sheriff or chief of police shall inform the victim of:
- When the defendant is released from custody at any time before or during trial
- The amount of bail for release of the defendant
- Of the final disposition of the case in which he was directly involved
- If the defendant has been convicted of a sexual offense or a crime of threatened or actual use of violence against the victim, the court shall provide to each victim or witness certain forms and documentation outlining rights (contact your prosecutor for specifics regarding this section).
Provides that a court may issue a temporary or extended order for protection to a person who reasonably believes that the crime of stalking, aggravated stalking or harassment is being committed.
NRS 209.392 & 521
Provides that, upon written request of the victim, the Nevada Department of Prisons shall notify the victim if the defendant becomes eligible for residential confinement, or is the defendant is released from custody or escapes.
Provides that, upon written request of a victim, the Board of Parole Commissioners, must notify a victim that a prisoner is being considered for parole, and the victim must be notified of the date of the hearing and given the opportunity to testify and submit documents. Additionally, the Board of Parole Commissioners must notify the victim of their decision on whether to grant parole.
NRS 213.010, 040, 095
Provides that upon written request of the victim, the Board of Pardon Commissioners must notify a victim when a prisoner has applied for clemency, allow the victim to submit written statements or to be heard, and the disposition of the hearing.
Note: As a victim, you are entitled to certain notifications if you have requested, in writing, to be notified. As part of that written request, you must provide an address where you can be contacted. If you move, you must notify the the notifying agency of the new address. Your address must be kept confidential by the agency that receives your written request. Addresses for the state agencies you should notify (upon the defendant's conviction of a gross misdemeanor or felony) are provided below:
Nevada Department of Prisons
Central Administrative Office
Attn: Warrants Coordinator/Victim Notification
P.0. Box 7011
Carson City, NV 89702
Nevada Division of Parole and Probation
Central Administrative Office
1445 Hot Springs Road, 104 West
Carson City, NV 89706
Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners
1445 Hot Springs Road 108-B
Carson City, NV 89711
Nevada Board of Pardons Commissioners
1445 Hot Springs Road, 108-B
Carson City, NV 89711