Nevada Criminal Lawyer

Each jurisdiction, federal, state, and local, creates laws that ban conduct thought to be harmful, in an effort to protect all members of society.  A crime is an act, or failure to act, that violates these laws.  If a crime is committed, the government prosecutes the actor or the person who had a duty to act and failed to do so.  This is criminal law.

Criminal law, also known as “penal law,” encompasses the enforcement of these laws as well as the civil rights and applicable defenses of the accused and convicted.  Punishment is doled out to rehabilitate the offender, deter harmful behavior by the offender and others, and to provide restitution to the injured and society, as a whole.

Serious crimes, typically punishable by imprisonment for at least a year, are called felonies.  Misdemeanors are less serious crimes and are, typically, punishable by less than a year.

An act or failure to act can only be punished if it has been previously established as a crime.  Federal crimes are listed in Title 18 of the United States Code and the state of Nevada’s Criminal Code is contained in Title 15 of the Nevada Revised Statutes.

To convict someone of a crime, government prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged with the crime actually committed the crime (an act or failure to act) with the requisite mens rea (mental state.)

Criminal Law FAQs

What are Miranda rights?
A person being accused of a crime has Miranda rights during police questioning.  These rights include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.  An attorney must be provided free of charge if the accused cannot afford one.

What crimes represent a failure to act? 
Most criminal acts are crimes of commission; someone does something that has been labeled as a crime.  However, some criminal acts are crimes of omission or a failure to act.  Examples of crimes that represent a failure to act are income tax evasion for the failure to properly file and pay income taxes, animal cruelty for a dog that starves to death, and child neglect for a child that doesn’t receive appropriate medical care.

What does “malice aforethought” mean? 
“Malice aforethought” refers to the specific intent required in some crimes.  The most common example is first degree murder.  To convict an actor of first degree murder, the government must prove that he or she had malice aforethought, meaning that the murder was thought out or planned.

Do those convicted of crimes have rights?
Those convicted of crimes have a right to appeal their case until they reach the court of last resort.  In addition, those convicted of crimes have civil rights, including the right to health care, mental health care, right to be free from sexual crimes, and the right to have access to programs if disabled.

Criminal Law Glossary

4th Amendment Rights
The 4th amendment provides private citizens with the right to be free from unreasonable governmental search, seizure, and arrest.

Penal Law
Penal law is another term for “criminal law.”

Criminal Procedure
Criminal procedure is the method by which crimes are enforced.  For example, there are specific rules regarding the collection of evidence, the interrogation of suspects, and statute of limitations (i.e. procedural deadlines for prosecuting a criminal act.)
You likely have heard of these criminal procedure rights:  the right to a speedy trial, the right to trial by jury, the right to a competent attorney, the right to remain silent, the right not to testify against yourself, and the right to confront witnesses.

Criminal Law
Substantive criminal law refers to the actual crimes detailed in crimes codes; the act or failure to act which is a crime.
Examples are murder, theft, burglary, theft by deception, shoplifting, rape, aiding and abetting, child abuse, cruelty to animals, arson, kidnapping, extortion, forgery, counterfeiting, speeding, stalking, cyberstalking, resisting arrest, torture, terrorism, and the like.

Strict Liability Crimes
Strict liability crimes are those that do not require a specific intent or mens rea.  It is enough that the act was taken or not taken; what you’re thinking at the time is irrelevant.  Examples of strict liability crimes would be speeding, running a red light, selling alcohol to minors, and statutory rape.