25 years of Criminal Law Experience
When you are accused of breaking the law, the first thing you need to know is whether or not you will be charged in federal or state court. The federal and state systems operate very differently. Karen A. Connolly Ltd. provides representation in both feral and state court.
Federal crimes are violations of laws created by Congress, whereas State crimes are violation of laws created by the state legislature. The United State Attorney’s Office represents the United States in federal cases. These cases are conducted in federal courthouses throughout the country. Investigations are generally done by federal law enforcement agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The U.S. Attorney will frequently take cases from state and local agencies. The U.S. Attorneys’ Offices work with those agencies to provide direction and legal counsel in federal criminal investigations. State and local prosecutors (whether the district attorney, county/city prosecutors, or the state attorney general’s office) represent the state for cases arising under state law. The cases are generally investigated by local law enforcement agencies. Occasionally, federal and state law may overlap in a certain area, allowing both federal and state prosecutors to pursue the case.
Federal cases are presided over by a United States District Judge who is nominated by the president and confirmed by the senate and has lifetime tenure. State cases are presided over by local, elected judges.
A significant and important difference between state and federal crimes is sentencing. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are non-binding rules that set out a uniform sentencing policy for defendants convicted in federal court. These guidelines are very complicated, and may result in a sentence based on facts not proven beyond a reasonable doubt or admitted in the case of a guilty plea. Calculating a defendant’s sentencing exposure is a difficult process requiring knowledge of the intricate guidelines and federal law. Sentencing in state court is a far simpler process; sentences are established by the legislature and are set forth in the Nevada revised code. It is not uncommon for two individuals who have committed similar crimes to get different sentences simply because one was charged with a federal crime and the other a state crime.
The federal and state systems are very different. If you are charged with a federal crime, it is imperative that you retain an attorney like Karen A. Connolly, who has a wealth of experience in federal court.
Federal Crimes in Nevada
People charged with federal crimes in Nevada face significant prison time due to tough federal sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimum sentences set forth in the United Sates Code. It is extremely important to retain an experienced, federal practitioner to handle your case.
Parole has been abolished in the federal system. Sentences are harsh. Consequently, most cases end in a plea bargain. It is essential that you are assisted in this process by an experienced federal practitioner such as Ms. Connolly. She has represented many people charged with federal crimes and is familiar with the sentencing guidelines, federal prosecutors and judges. Some of her federal cases ended in a plea, others she took to trial. Karen Anne Connolly has appealed federal convictions and has argued in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Domestic violence involves any form of “violence” or “abuse” between people involved in a domestic or familial relationship, including those who are living together.
Battery which constitutes domestic violence is defined by NRS 200.485.
Battery is broadly defined as any unwarranted, harmful touching. Examples of battery include hitting, pushing, kicking and slapping.
If you have been accused of a domestic abuse crime, Karen A. Connolly will work to tirelessly to defend you, ensuring that you are treated fairly.
Protective Orders and Restraining Orders
If you have been accused of a crime of domestic violence, the alleged victim may seek and obtain a protective or restraining order against you. A Temporary Protective Order (TPO) may limit your access to your children, to your home, and the accuser. Violation of a TPO is a crime. A TPO will also impact your Second Amendment Right to own/carry a gun.
In light of the adverse consequences that a protective order can have, especially when children are involved, it is important that you have the assistance of a seasoned defense attorney.
Injunctions and Protective Orders are set forth in Chapter 33 of the Nevada Revised Codes.
Violating a protective order is either a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor under NRS 33.100.
Domestic Violence Penalties
The penalties for a domestic violence in Nevada conviction depend on whether this is your first, second, or third domestic violence offense. Those penalties are set forth in NRS 200.485.
If convicted, you could receive two days to six months in the Clark County Detention Center. Fines range from $200 to $1,000, plus administrative and court costs. You may also receive between 48 and 120 hours of community service. You may be required to attend weekly counseling sessions at your own expense.
If convicted, you could receive 10 days to six months in the Clark County Detention Center. Fines range from $500 to $10,000, plus administrative and court costs. You may also receive between 100 and 200 hours of community service. You may be required to attend weekly counseling sessions at your own expense for up to 12 months.
If convicted, you could receive 1 to 5 years in Nevada State Prison. You could be assessed a fine of up to $10,000. A third domestic violence conviction is a felony. Probation is not available.
Other Consequences of Domestic Violence
Because domestic violence is taken so seriously by Las Vegas courts, you could be facing many other consequences in addition to criminal penalties if you are convicted of domestic violence.
In the case of parents, if domestic violence is proven by clear and convincing evidence, there is a rebuttable presumption that the perpetrator should not have joint legal or physical legal custody.
In addition, federal law prohibits those who have been convicted of domestic violence from legally carrying a firearm. For members of the military and law enforcement officials, this could mean the end of your career.
You must do everything in your power to avoid being convicted of domestic violence in Las Vegas. This means that you should hire an experienced domestic violence lawyer to fight for your innocence in court.
Sex related crimes are extremely serious. If you are facing charges of a sexual nature, it is in your best interests to immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Sex related crimes carry a penalty of up to life in prison. If convicted and ever released, life time supervision and registry as a sex offender is mandatory.
Sex crimes include but are not limited to the following: Sexual Assault (Rape) NRS 200.366.
Sexual Assault or Rape is defined as a person who: “subjects another person to sexual penetration, or forces another person to make a sexual penetration on himself or herself…against the will of the victim…or the perpetrator knows or should know that the victim is mentally or physically incapable of resisting or understanding the nature of his or her conduct” NRS 200.366. It is not legal to have sex with someone against their will, or when or if the other person lacked the ability to refuse due to mental or physical capability or impairment.
Conviction for sexual assault carries a sentence of life, with possibility of parole after 10 years. If it involves substantial bodily harm, the sentence may be life without possibility of parole, or with possibility of parole after 15 years.
Las Vegas Open or Gross Lewdness Law
Open or Gross Lewdness involves non penetrative sexual contact NRS 201.210. Such action involves groping or touching. For a first offense it is a gross misdemeanor, the potential sentence is up to 1 year in jail.
Lewdness with a child under the age of 16 is any 18 year old or older who commits a non-penetrative sexual act on or with the body of a child less than 16 years old NRS 201.230. Penalties increase as the age of the victim reduces, or as the number of offenses increases. If found guilty of this charge as a first offense, it is considered a category-B felony with a prison term of 1-10 years.
Sexual Acts in Public occur when a person of full age commits anal intercourse, cunnilingus or fellatio in public NRS 201.190. This offense is a felony and carries a potential prison term of 1-4 years.
Indecent Exposure is the open and indecent or obscene exposure of his or her person, or the person of another NRS 201.220. First offense is considered a Gross Misdemeanor with sentence of up to 364 days in county jail. Subsequent offenses are considered a category-D felony with sentence of one to four years in state prison, and a possible fine up to $5,000.
DUI / DWI
State residents and visitors should know that driving under the influence (DUI/DWI) in Nevada is a serious offense. A conviction has adverse consequences such as jail, hefty fines and revocation or driving privileges. It is important that you hire competent legal counsel if arrested for DUI/DWI.
DUI Process in Las Vegas
After an arrest for drunk driving in Nevada, you typically receive a citation to appear in court. When you go to court, you will enter a plea of not guilty. If your charge is a misdemeanor, you may not need to appear at the initial hearing If you have hired a criminal defense lawyer who can appear at the hearing on your behalf. Stiff DUI/DWI’s penalties include loss of one’s driving license as well mandatory jail time. A third DUI/DWI is considered a felony. It is important to hire a seasoned defense attorney lawyer to assist you with aggressive prosecutors who take DUI and DWI’s very seriously.
Las Vegas DUI Laws
DUI Laws can be found in the NRS-484C - Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Prohibited Substances.
In Nevada, you may be charged with DUI if a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or more within two hours of being in control of a vehicle. Nevada’s DUI laws prohibit any motorist from operating a motor vehicle—including motorcycles, bicycles, and boats—while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The DUI penalties that may be imposed after your first DUI include two days to six months in jail, fines up to $1,000, and a 90-day license suspension. If you are convicted a second time, you may be sentenced to 10 days to six months in jail, fines of up to $1,000, and a yearlong license suspension. Third DUI offenses may carry penalties of one to six years in jail, up to $5,000 in fines, and license suspension for three years.
If convicted of DUI, you may also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle to maintain driving privileges. An IID prevents your car from starting until you pass a breath test and establish that you have not been drinking. Some devices require you to take a breath test while driving. An IID is expensive to install, and there are monthly fees associated with maintaining the device.
Las Vegas Drug Possession
NRS 453.336 provides that “a person shall not knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance, unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a prescription.” Controlled substances include illegal drugs (such as cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, heroin, and methamphetamine) as well as prescription drugs for which you do not have a valid prescription.
Nevada controlled substances laws prohibit three types of drug possession:
(1) actual, (2) constructive, and (3) joint.
A person is in actual possession of a controlled substance when keeping narcotics on his or her person. For example, a person who has a vial of crack cocaine in his or her pocket is in actual possession of the drug.
A person is in constructive possession of a controlled substance when narcotics are found in an area over which he or she has control. For example, a homeowner who has an ounce of marijuana under his or her bed is considered to be in constructive possession of the drug.
A person is in joint possession of a controlled substance if he or she shares control of narcotics with another person. For example, a husband who knows that his wife stores PCP under their bathroom sink may be found to have been in joint possession of the drug.
Defenses to Drug Possession Charges
If you have been charged with drug possession in Clark County, a Las Vegas drug possession lawyer can help you understand the defenses available to you in your criminal case. The following material is provided for informational purposes only.
LACK OF KNOWLEDGE
If you did not know about the presence of the drugs you were charged with possessing, you are not guilty of a crime under Nevada law. For example, if your roommate hid ketamine in your garage and you had no knowledge of this, you may be acquitted (found not guilty) or have your case dismissed.
Typically, police must obtain a warrant before conducting a search. There are many exceptions to this general rule. However, if you were charged with drug possession after being the subject of a warrant-less search, you may be able to suppress evidence obtained from this search during your trial.
Entrapment is a defense to all criminal charges, but it is very hard to prove. If police officers induce a person to commit a crime that he or she would not have otherwise committed, this is entrapment.
CRIME LAB ANALYSIS
If analysis of the “drugs” found in your possession establishes that the substance was not in fact illegal, you may have a defense to the charge of drug possession.
Las Vegas Theft Laws
There are many different crimes that fall under the “theft” umbrella in Nevada.
Grand larceny auto
Most theft crimes involve petit larceny or grand larceny. Depending on the value of the items you have been accused of stealing, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. If a weapon was used or anyone was injured during the theft, the punishment will increase and you could be facing significant time in the Clark County Detention Center or Nevada State Prison.
Nevada Theft Laws
NRS 205.240 defines petty larceny as a theft involving property valued at less than $650.
Most petty larceny cases arise from one of the following situations:
Stealing items from a hotel room;
Taking someone else’s pets; or
Stealing property from someone that is not worth more than $650.
To determine the value of allegedly stolen property in a theft case, courts will assign to it the highest reasonable value. If the value of the allegedly stolen property is more than $650, a court may charge a suspect with the more serious grand larceny offense.
NRS 205.220 defines grand larceny, and states that the crime occurs when someone “intentionally steals, takes, and carries away, leads away or drives away” property owned by another person that is valued at $650 or more without that person’s consent.
Most grand larceny charges arise in the following scenarios:
Taking money or property from a store;
Using an ATM to withdraw money that is not yours;
Stealing furniture or other valuable items from a hotel room;
Stealing someone else’s pets or farm animals; or
Stealing property from someone that is worth more than $650.
Defenses to Las Vegas Theft Charges
Defending yourself against criminal charges is very complicated. A theft lawyer can help you understand what defenses are available to you in your case. The following material is for informational purposes only.
There are many defenses available to defendants facing theft charges, including:
THE PROPERTY WAS YOURS.
If the property you have been accused of stealing belonged to you, you cannot be convicted of theft.
YOU DID NOT INTEND TO STEAL.
In order to convict you of grand larceny, the prosecutor must prove that you intended to steal the property. If you did not intend to steal the property you were accused of taking, you cannot be convicted of grand larceny.
THE PROPERTY WAS NOT VALUABLE ENOUGH.
If you can show that the property you were accused of stealing was worth less than $650, you cannot be convicted of grand larceny.
Crimes against persons are set forth in Chapter 200 of the Nevada Revised Statutes and include but are not limited to Homicide, kidnapping, battery, trafficking in persons, assault and battery.
Nevada still has the death penalty for first degree murder, which includes deliberate, premeditated murder or felony murder NRS 200.030.
Sealing a Criminal Record in Nevada
Having a criminal record can negatively impact your life. It can hurt your chances at finding work or being approved for a loan. Even a conviction for a minor criminal offense, such as petty theft, that occurred years ago can prevent you from being considered for certain jobs, credit, and public benefits.
Fortunately, in Nevada, after period of time your record can be sealed. In today’s economic climate, it’s more important than ever to take the steps to seal your criminal record so that you will not be at a disadvantage. When you comply with the procedure for sealing a criminal record in Nevada, your record will be expunged from the record system. Arrests can also be sealed. People with sealed records can legally deny having a criminal history, such as during a job interview or under oath (with some exceptions).
Some government agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and the Nevada Gaming Control Board may still have access to sealed records.
Waiting time to Seal a Criminal Record:
1 Year - Most Misdemeanors
5 Years - Category B, C, & D Felonies
For more information on sealing a criminal record, please review the statute: NRS 179-2405 - 179.301.