The Clark County Grand Jury indicted fourteen suspects in connection with
methamphetamine bust in Nevada history. Last week, a taskforce including local and federal
drug enforcement authorities simultaneously executed search
warrants on several houses and seized 208 pounds of methamphetamine and 4 pounds of
heroin. Clark County prosecutors took the case to the Grand Jury this week, and
received indictments for fourteen (14) suspects on drug trafficking charges.
When the indictments were returned, Judge Linda Bell set bail at one million
dollars for each defendant except one, who was alleged to be the "ring
leader." His bail was set at two million dollars.
Drug Trafficking ordinarily makes people think of a group of people or a cartel transporting
and distributing large amounts of drugs across international (or at least
state) borders. But, in Nevada, a person can be charged with Drug Trafficking
for merely possessing more than four (4) grams of a controlled substance.
Possession of more than 28 grams (or one ounce) of a controlled substance
is considered a "Large" Trafficking and can result in a life sentence.
Prior to holding a defendant for trial on a criminal charge, a prosecutor
must first present its case at a probable cause hearing. There are two
types of probable cause hearings: Preliminary Hearing and Grand Jury.
Preliminary hearings are adversarial proceedings where the defense has
the opportunity to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against him
and test the prosecutor's evidence. In contrast, Grand jury proceedings
are considered "secret" and are not adversarial proceedings.
In fact, unless they elect to testify, the defendant and his attorney
are not even allowed in the Grand Jury room. It has often been said that
"a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich." In many cases, that
is not too far from the truth.
In state court, prosecutors must serve the defendant a
Marcum notice prior to seeking the indictment. The
Marcum notice: (1) informs the defendant of the proceeding; (2) informs him that
he may testify if he or she so chooses, and (3) allows him an opportunity
to provide exculpatory (or favorable) evidence which the prosecutor is
then required to present to the grand jury. However, even if the defendant
provides exculpatory evidence, the prosecutor frequently instructs the
jury only on the elements of the crime, and not on the importance (or
relevance) of the exculpatory evidence.
There are many reasons why a prosecutor may go to a grand jury instead
of preliminary hearing. Sometimes, it is just a matter of time –
because it is much faster to indict a case than go to preliminary hearing.
In addition, many justice courts (where preliminary hearings are held)
set those hearings out several months to nearly a year. Sometimes, a prosecutor
will present a case to the grand jury to avoid giving the defense an opportunity
to test their case, because they don't want to expose weaknesses in
the case that they know exist.
If you or someone you know is charged with a criminal offense or has been
served with a
Marcum notice, it is important that you contact a
Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney immediately because once a
Marcum notice is served, the timelines to respond can be as little as five (5)
days. The Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer can assist you by analyzing
the facts of your case, identifying appropriate defenses and developing
the most aggressive litigation strategy possible to protect your legal rights.