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Does Nevada provide free lawyers for juvenile court?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Feb 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

Yes, Nevada public defenders are assigned to children facing delinquency charges in juvenile court in Nevada.

State and county public defenders in Nevada

A public defender is a government-employed attorney who represents indigent defendants facing criminal charges. Nevada counties with populations of at least 100,000 residents are legally required to have public defenders offices. Meanwhile, counties with less than 100,000 residents can choose whether or not to have a public defenders office.

When a county does not have a public defenders office, the Nevada State Public Defenders Office steps in. A state public defender also steps in when the local public defender has a "legal conflict" and is barred from representing the defendant by the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct. (The Nevada State Public Defender's Office is within the Department of Health and Human Services.)

In 2008, the Nevada Supreme Court ordered the establishment of the Nevada Indigent Defense Standards of Performance. This is meant to improve public defenders' quality of legal representation by explicating how everyone deserves "zealous advocacy."

The Juvenile Division of the Clark County Public Defenders Office is located at 601 N. Pecos, Las Vegas, NV 89101. The phone number is 702-455-5475.

Age requirements for Juvenile Courts in Nevada

Juvenile courts in Nevada have jurisdiction over children under 18 who allegedly broke the law. For certain serious offenses however, the child can be certified as an adult and prosecuted in Nevada criminal court.

Note that children under 8 are not subject to punishment in juvenile court. And children age 8 through 14 are also not subject to punishment unless there is clear proof that they knew of the wrongfulness of their actions at the time of the alleged act.

Learn more about Nevada juvenile delinquency laws.

Juveniles' right to representation in Nevada

Children under 18 get their right to legal representation in juvenile court matters from various sources:

Courts determine whether a child's parent or guardian is indigent (too poor to afford an attorney) based on the following factors:

  • whether the parent/guardian receives public assistance;
  • whether the parent/guardian lives in public housing;
  • whether the parent/guardian has a household income that is less than 200% of the federally designated level signifying poverty;
  • whether the parent/guardian is incarcerated for being convicted of a crime;
  • whether the parent/guardian is housed in a public or private mental health facility;
  • the seriousness of the charges against the child;
  • the monthly expenses of the parent/guardian;
  • the rates for attorneys in the area in which the juvenile court is located; and
  • whether the parent/guardian is financially unable -- without substantial hardship to the parent/guardian or their dependents -- to obtain qualified and competent legal counsel.

If a parent or guardian who can pay refuses to hire an attorney, the juvenile court will appoint one for the child. However, the court can then order the parent or guardian to pay for the attorney fees.

Note that juveniles may waive (forfeit) their right to an attorney if the waiver is made knowingly, intelligently, voluntarily, and in accordance with any applicable standards established by the juvenile court.

Also note that a juvenile's trial attorney must inform him/her that he/she has the right to appeal the case. Furthermore, this attorney must make sure that the notice of appeal and request appellate counsel are filed.


Legal References

NRS 62D.030  Advisement of right to representation by attorney; appointment of attorney; waiver of right to representation; responsibility of parent or guardian for payment; compensation.

      1.  If a child is alleged to be delinquent or in need of supervision, the juvenile court shall advise the child and the parent or guardian of the child that the child is entitled to be represented by an attorney at all stages of the proceedings.

      2.  If a parent or guardian of a child is indigent, the parent or guardian may request the appointment of an attorney to represent the child pursuant to the provisions in NRS 171.188.

      3.  Except as otherwise provided in this section, the juvenile court shall appoint an attorney for a child if the parent or guardian of the child does not retain an attorney for the child and is not likely to retain an attorney for the child.

      4.  A child may waive the right to be represented by an attorney if:

      (a) A petition is not filed and the child is placed under informal supervision pursuant to NRS 62C.200; or

      (b) A petition is filed and the record of the juvenile court shows that the waiver of the right to be represented by an attorney is made knowingly, intelligently, voluntarily and in accordance with any applicable standards established by the juvenile court.

      5.  Except as otherwise provided in subsection 6 and NRS 424.085, if the juvenile court appoints an attorney to represent a child and:

      (a) The parent or guardian of the child is not indigent, the parent or guardian shall pay the reasonable fees and expenses of the attorney.

      (b) The parent or guardian of the child is indigent, the juvenile court may order the parent or guardian to reimburse the county or State in accordance with the ability of the parent or guardian to pay.

      6.  For the purposes of paragraph (b) of subsection 5, the juvenile court shall find that the parent or guardian of the child is indigent if:

      (a) The parent or guardian:

             (1) Receives public assistance, as that term is defined in NRS 422A.065;

             (2) Resides in public housing, as that term is defined in NRS 315.021;

             (3) Has a household income that is less than 200 percent of the federally designated level signifying poverty;

             (4) Is incarcerated pursuant to a sentence imposed upon conviction of a crime; or

             (5) Is housed in a public or private mental health facility; or

      (b) After considering the particular circumstances of the parent or guardian, including, without limitation, the seriousness of the charges against the child, the monthly expenses of the parent or guardian and the rates for attorneys in the area in which the juvenile court is located, the juvenile court determines that the parent or guardian is financially unable, without substantial hardship to the parent or guardian or his or her dependents, to obtain qualified and competent legal counsel.

      7.  Each attorney, other than a public defender, who is appointed under the provisions of this section is entitled to the same compensation and expenses from the county as is provided in NRS 7.125 and 7.135 for attorneys appointed to represent persons charged with criminal offenses.

National Juvenile Defenders Center's Post-Disposition Page

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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