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October 25, 2014

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Las Vegas court raises bail amounts for crimes

New standard bail schedule sets standards for categories of crime

It will cost criminals more money to operate in Las Vegas, courtesy of increased bail amounts that went into effect earlier this month.

The new standard bail schedule for Las Vegas Township Justice Court, effective Sept. 1, streamlines the policy by setting bail amounts according to the category of offense versus the previous charge-by-charge listing.

For instance, that means robbery and ex-felon possession of a firearm — both category B felonies, which previously carried different bail amounts — now have bail amounts of $20,000 based on the category of the offenses.

“It’ll be more consistent and clear,” said Judge Joe Bonaventure, chair of the Justice Court Criminal Process Committee, which discussed and made the bail changes. “The old bail schedule really (had) a number of exceptions. It started to get really confusing.”

The changes reduce the schedule to a single-page document versus the old, multi-page schedule that had not been significantly updated for at least seven years — the length of time Bonaventure has been on the bench, he said.

The following list represents the new bail amounts for felony charges in Justice Court:

• Attempted murder — no bail / set in court

• Battery domestic violence resulting in substantial bodily harm (no DW) or committed by strangulation or third offense — $15,000

• DUI resulting in death or substantial bodily harm — no bail / set in court

• All other Category A felonies — no bail / set in court

• All other Category B felonies — $20,000

• All other Category C felonies — $10,000

• All other Category D and E felonies — $5,000

When the committee, made up of judges, began exploring whether to update the bail schedule, it realized Las Vegas’ bail amounts lagged in comparison to other jurisdictions, such as San Diego and Los Angeles, Bonaventure said.

Meanwhile, Metro Police encouraged the committee to increase bail amounts, specifically for gun crimes, vehicle theft- and vice-related crimes, Bonaventure said.

Metro spokesman Bill Cassell, who praised the collaboration between law enforcement and the judicial system, said police hope the changes deter criminals from operating in Las Vegas given the more expensive bail amounts.

“It’s not a sleepover at CCDC (Clark County Detention Center) anymore,” he said. “It’s a significant amount.”

Bonaventure said the bail increases vary depending on the charge and what category offense it falls under. Some bail amounts as much as quadrupled, he said.

In deciding the new amounts, the judges’ two main concerns were whether the dollar amounts ensured the suspects would appear in court and whether they protected the safe-being of the community, Bonaventure said.

The judges did, however, take into account Metro’s requests — including for auto theft, a crime police have been trying to curb since noticing an uptick earlier this year.

Bail for grand larceny auto increased from $3,000 to $10,000. If the vehicle is worth more than $2,500, bail doubles to $20,000, Bonaventure said.

The updated bail schedule also eliminates a formerly cumbersome process to set bail each time the Nevada Legislature approved a new criminal offense, Bonaventure said. The default standard bail amount for new offenses was $3,000, but if the offense was more serious in nature, a higher bail amount needed a vote for approval.

Now, he said, the amounts are pre-determined because of the bail’s correlation to each category of offenses.

Justice Court officials posted the new bail schedule online, in addition to informing Las Vegas bar associations and bail bond companies.

So far, Bonaventure said the judicial system hasn’t received negative feedback. He said the committee spent considerable time ensuring the fairness of the new amounts.

“We really do treat it seriously,” he said. “The right to reasonable bail is a fundamental right.”

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  1. "It will cost criminals more money to operate in Las Vegas, courtesy of increased bail amounts that went into effect earlier this month."

    Valley -- you missed the real points on this one. For starters, bail isn't for criminals, it's for those *accused* of crimes. But there's plenty more wrong with this scheme which goes way into the yellow on my B$ometer.

    First, on my own TRAFFIC ticket from earlier this year (unregistered vehicle) there's a tag-on "violation" to LV Municipal Code 10.02.010 which appears to have turned a simple traffic violation into a misdemeanor. That means according to this "criminal bail schedule" the court could demand $1,000 on top of the actual violation fine, and demand it at the arraignment. Either pay it or go to jail. And that's for not having a license plate and expired temporary registration (another DMV trap).

    Second, it's not up to judges to set the bail amounts unless specifically allowed that discretion by lawmakers.

    Third, most important of all, anybody else out there had to deal with a bail situation? Typically it goes with the charge and you have to give it to the court or be jailed pending trial. When you've finally jumped through all their hoops and ritualistic formalities, and the charges dismissed, which can take months, it's like pulling teeth to get your ran$om back. Then you'll find the check is light -- they take plenty of fees out of it, including any "debt" like unpaid parking tickets, child support arrearages, etc., out of it.

    Make no mistake, people -- it's all about getting the $$, whether you have it or not. I have a friend who has a warrant out for her arrest because she couldn't pay the $1,200 fine for a crack in her windshield and the court basically said pay it or else. Strange how groceries, gas and rent are a priority.

    "Makes you feel ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game." -- Bob Dylan "Hurricane"

  2. Watch how fast the jails fill up. Bail bondsmen must be happy as a pig in S***. Is their any discretion on the bail amount, or is everyone put into te same category based off the class of offense? I feel bad for people that are not guilty of a crime and get cought up with an un- reasonable bail amount, can not afford to get out of jail to defend themselves. Then they loose their job, car, housing, or maybe everything, because of this higher bail. This is sad.

  3. I've always thought bail should be based on ones 'net-worth + assets', an even playing field. Now, only the rich 'walks'.

  4. "It will cost citizens more money to enjoy the presumption of innocence pending trial."

    heymikey -- good one! Funny how they keep forgetting the basics, no?

    "'If the law supposes that,' said Mr. Bumble,.... 'the law is a ass -- a idiot.'" -- Charles Dickens, "Oliver Twist"

  5. Ok here's a tip , don't get arrested and than it won't affect you., to the one guy always quoting people , if your car was registered you wouldn't have had thE problem, its your fault and a reasonable punishment that makes it so people register there car , and to Anthony , yes the .000001% of people who.are innocent and arrested well I've never met one. Don't get arrested and it won't affect you .........

  6. "One law for the rich, one for the poor. I hope the ACLU will sue."

    mred -- that's another way of saying you get all the justice you can afford. About the ACLU, they're not a public watchdog, they're private. The spotlight instead should be our elected fools who made the law, including the governor -- all of whom took the oath of office. You'll find it in the state Constitution's Article 15, Section 2:

    "I, ................, do solemly [solemnly] swear (or affirm) that I will support, protect and defend the constitution and government of the United States, and the constitution and government of the State of Nevada, against all enemies, whether domestic or foreign, and that I will bear true faith, allegiance and loyalty to the same, any ordinance, resolution or law of any state notwithstanding, and that I will well and faithfully perform all the duties of the office of ................, on which I am about to enter; (if an oath) so help me God; (if an affirmation) under the pains and penalties of perjury."

    What part of "support, protect and defend" did each of them not understand? The problem for the rest of us is the byzantine process one has to go through to get a statute declared unConstitutional.

    "Ok here's a tip , don't get arrested and than it won't affect you..."

    702limo -- your post showed you are completely ignorant of the government you live under and what it means to be a citizen. Found a quote just for you --

    "The Fuhrer is always right." -- Joachim von Ribbentrop, the 1939 Konigsberg address