On Nevada’s Bill To Let First Offenders Avoid Imprisonment

Nevada supreme court

Law enforcement takes time to arrest a suspect as it entails detaining that person before transporting and then booking them. There is also the paperwork afterward. It is a process that lasts around 90 minutes.


Moreover, every single day that the individual stays in jail costs US taxpayers $200 or so. At least, that is true for Las Vegas’s Clark County Detention Center (CCDC).


Now, what if the person’s offense is a misdemeanor for the first-ever time? In that case, would it be necessary to take that person to jail? Or, should they be offered a legal citation that makes them pledge to appear in court?


Nevada’s AB 440 looks to do that, as per its advocates who presented that bill before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary.


An NCSL report found that the citation procedure takes police up to 30 minutes, as per Nevada Assembly Member Edgar Flores. For your information, the Assemblyperson found AB 440 to be a still-unfinished bill. The said committee has not taken a call on the piece of legislation.


Law enforcement, which included Metro Police, Henderson city, Las Vegas city, and prosecutors quickly opposed the bill.


The debate revolved around officers using discretionary powers, something which the law strips as those concern suspects charged with first nonviolent misdemeanors.


The officers would still have access to the powers as they handle one who does not cooperate with their commands, in one of the following situations.


  • If that person has a record of not going to court;
  • In the event of them refusing to sign the legal citation; or,
  • In the case of warrants for the person’s arrest.


The bill requires an alleged offender to offer satisfactory proof of his or her identity. The person apprehended for driving under the influence or considered guilty of a domestic violence act, and any other violent misdemeanor would be imprisoned. Trespassing and theft are among Nevada’s nonviolent misdemeanors.


Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s lobbyist director Chuck Callaway suggested that the police power for a public citizen’s apprehension would be beyond just a cop. Washoe County Sheriff’s Office’s Lieutenant Corey Solferino stated that the bill ‘handcuffs’ American law enforcement.


Callaway opined that apprehension is sometimes necessary to stop a future issue.


Officers on the ground already utilize comparable discretionary powers in cases of nonviolent misdemeanor. That was proven in the epidemic period when law enforcement agencies told their staff to apprehend a person accused of a more serious crime to reduce jail populations, said Flores.


AB 440 looks to systematize that particular good policy, stated Office of the Clark County Public Defender’s John Piro. It is unfortunate that the epidemic showed a way of working it out, said Piro.


As for Callaway, 90% of misdemeanors are already dealt with in the form of citations-only cases. Callaway also said that misdemeanor offenders occupy just 11% of Las Vegas’s CCDC and that almost all of them face domestic violence allegations and DUI charges.


Callaway stated that a 13% reduction has been there in county jail booking since the year 2007. It was unclear as to how much the COVID-19 mitigation endeavors mattered to that figure.


An LVMPD officer needs their supervisor’s approval to apprehend a nonviolent misdemeanor’s suspect if it is no domestic violence or DUI, said Callaway. He predicted a rise of lawlessness in the event of the bill being passed. He also asked legislators what their action would be if they contacted the police over somebody and that individual was not apprehended.