The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday reversed the dismissal of a 14-count indictment against a Las Vegas defense attorney.
Prosecutors have said that Alexis Plunkett improperly provided a cellphone to inmates at the Clark County Detention Center. Plunkett has said she is in a relationship with one of the inmates, 27-year-old Andrew Arevalo, who also was indicted, and that she used the cellphone to make calls regarding bail, which she believed she was authorized to do.
The high court ruled unanimously that District Judge Michael Villani was wrong to throw out the charges against Plunkett more than a year ago.
“Even though Plunkett is not a prisoner confined in a jail, she can be criminally liable as a principal for a prisoner’s possession of a cellphone,” Justice Lidia Stiglich wrote.
On her law firm’s Facebook page on Thursday, Plunkett posted a link to this story and wrote: “I’m extremely disappointed but won’t give up.”
Prosecutors declined to comment on the court’s ruling but said the case against Plunkett could return to the lower court within weeks.
The high court focused on Plunkett’s alleged actions as aiding and abetting the crimes of inmates.
“If Plunkett had furnished a cellphone to a prisoner confined in a prison, thereby also aiding in the prisoner’s possession of the cellphone, charges may have been brought … based on an aider and abettor theory of liability,” Stiglich wrote. “Simply because a defendant’s actions might subject them to liability under more than one statute does not evince legislative intent to limit the broad application of our aiding and abetting statute.”
Arevalo had been freed from the jail, and in February he graduated from Hope for Prisoners, a nonprofit organization that partners with law enforcement agencies across the state to give current and former inmates a chance to return as productive members of society.
But he was back behind bars in September after prosecutors said he did not charge a house arrest ankle monitor and tested positive for methamphetamine. He is being held without bail and is awaiting trial on charges related to cellphone possession.
Plunkett represented Arevalo in his lawsuit against the Nevada Department of Corrections and others, including the former director of prisons, after he was shot in the face by a correctional officer in 2014 at Nevada’s High Desert State Prison in a shooting that left another man dead.