Perhaps you’ve heard about our overcrowding problem at the Clark
County Detention Center? It’s an ongoing issue, one that hits taxpayers
like you and me squarely in the wallet. There’s a reason for it…
but with a recent federal appeal, things could be changing.
Here’s the back story. If you are charged with a crime at the state
level – say in Las Vegas for example, you’ll almost always
need to pay cash bail to be released before your trial. But what if you’re
poor and just don’t have enough money to make bail?
Simple, the courts keep you in jail until your trial. Think about that:
how many low-level criminals are being held in our county jail simply
because they can’t raise the cash for bail? And we, the taxpayers,
are footing the bill for their lengthy stay (not to mention running out
of room to house them at the Detention Center).
Interestingly, the US Department of Justice took on this issue last week,
arguing in the US Court of Appeals that the practices currently in place
in some states that keep people (who would otherwise be released) locked
up because they can’t afford bail are unconstitutional. This is
the first time the Department of Justice has ever taken this position.
Keep in mind, they operate U.S. Attorney’s offices nationwide.
In Las Vegas,
federal courtrooms almost
never impose cash bail amounts as a condition of release. For the most part,
they follow the rule that “liberty is the norm, and detention prior
to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception.” (United
States v. Salerno).
So a federal judge deciding whether to hold a defendant or release him
considers several things: how dangerous is this person, will he/she run
(flight risk), and finally what will assure this person’s appearance
in court. Notice that there’s
no consideration of the defendant’s ability to pay bail. In fact, the
general rule is that financial conditions like bail should only be used
when nothing else will guarantee that person will show up in court.
Note the dramatic difference at the state level. Most low-income defendants
just sit in a jail cell until their trial… that’s the norm
rather than the exception. This is why it’s so important to get
qualified legal representation in your corner. Not only will the right
criminal defense attorney help get you released with a minimum amount
of bail, but more importantly, he’ll also be equipped to defend
you by attacking weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.
The lawyers at Oronoz, Ericsson & Gaffney, LLC, have the experience
and track record to defend your case to the fullest. No team of lawyers
has gone in front of Clark County juries and had as much success as we
have in obtaining not guilty verdicts. If you’ve been charged with
a crime, or even if you are in the process of being investigated. Call
us. Our clients tell us it’s like having a friend who’s an
expert in the law. You need us in your corner.