Felony and Gross Misdemeanor Case Information

Complaint:      The District Attorney files a complaint in either Reno Justice Court or Sparks Justice Court.

Arrest:      Upon arrest, please keep the following items in mind:

  • DO NOT discuss the facts of your case with ANYONE BUT YOUR ATTORNEY and his/her investigator, especially if you are in jail!
  • DO NOT send letters about your case or receive letters about your case, except for mail to your attorney. The jail copies all mail and provides the copies to law enforcement.
  • DO NOT discuss your case with family or friends on the jail telephone as it is recorded and can be used against you.
  • DO NOT discuss your case with ANY jail personnel, including medical staff.
  • DO NOT discuss your case with social workers as they will disclose your conversations to law enforcement and it will be used against you.
  • DO NOT meet with a social worker before speaking with your attorney.

Arraignment:      Once you are arrested, you will have an initial arraignment hearing within 72 hours. You will be read the charges against you and have the opportunity to enter a plea. You can request a Public Defender at this time. Court Services will make the determination of your indigency. Once you are appointed to the Washoe County Public Defender's Office, it can take 5-7 days for the paperwork to be processed. You will receive a letter from us notifying you of your Deputy Public Defender and contact information. Please be assured, if you are appointed a Public Defender, you WILL have representation for your next hearing.

Mandatory Status Conference:      This will be your first court hearing. Be sure to arrive early and check-in with the bailiff in your assigned department. If you are incarcerated, Court Transport from the jail will transport you for your hearing. Your attorney will discuss your options with you. Your case may stop at this point (sentencing or acquittal), may be continued to a preliminary hearing, or you may be bound over to District Court. A case is bound over if you waive the preliminary hearing in writing. The decision whether to negotiate to a plea bargain with the State is your decision to make. Your attorney will tell you about the evidence that will be used against you and what may help defend against the charges. He or she will discuss the possible results of plea or trial, but the final decision whether to negotiate a plea deal or go to trial will be yours.

District Court:      If your case proceeds in District Court, you will have a new arraignment hearing followed by trial and sentencing/acquittal. If you are found guilty by plea or following trial, your case will be referred to the Division of Parole and Probation for a pre-sentence investigation and report. Your criminal history, current circumstances, circumstances involving the crime and victim, and a recommendation regarding what sentence you should receive will be made to the Court. It is important to participate in the investigation with the Division of Parole and Probation, so please discuss with your attorney how you can present favorable information to the division. For probation-eligible offenses, cooperation improves your attorney's ability to argue for a more lenient sentence for you.


  • Always be truthful and honest with your attorney and his/her investigator(s).
  • Do not talk about your case with family, friends, social workers, jail workers, or other inmates.
  • Let your attorney know immediately if you have a change in address or phone number. If your attorney can not contact you they can not communicate information or changes in your case status.
  • Be ON TIME to court! Plan to arrive 15-30 minutes early. Check-in with the bailiff upon your arrival.
  • Dress neatly, and appropriately, for your court appearance. If you are unsure of appropriate dress, ask your attorney beforehand!