Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Nevada DUI Laws to learn more.
Immigrating to the U.S. is a gauntlet of forms, rules and interviews. But our attorneys are committed to making the process as quick and easy for you as possible. Visit our page on Nevada immigration laws to learn more.
How does a person qualify for a public defender in Nevada?
Defendants in Nevada criminal cases are entitled to a public defender if they are indigent and they are accused of either a felony, a gross misdemeanor, or a misdemeanor where the D.A. is seeking jail time. A person is indigent if he/she has insufficient resources to hire a private attorney.
When do defendants get a public defender?
During the arraignment – which is where the defendant is formally charged – the defendant can request that the court assign him/her a public defender. The defendant is then given paperwork to fill out to apply to get a public defender. The paperwork asks for details of the defendant’s finances as well as an affidavit where the defendant swears he/she is without the means to hire an attorney.
Note that indigent people can also get a public defender in other types of proceedings such as parole hearings, juvenile trials, involuntary commitment hearings, and parental termination petitions.
How do Nevada courts determine whether a defendant is indigent?
The court reviews the defendant’s finances to determine whether he/she is financially disabled enough to warrant a public defender. Since every defendant is different with his/her own expenses and circumstances, the judge looks at the totality of the situation when deciding whether he/she can get a public defender.
Can defendants choose their public defender?
No. Public defenders are randomly assigned to indigent defendants. If there is a conflict of interest with the public defender’s office, a private attorney may be assigned to the case.
Do defendants ever have to pay for a public defender in Nevada?
Yes. Defendants who make enough money within six years of the case are usually required to reimburse the public defender’s office. Often defendants can pay in installments instead of a lump-sum settlement. In rare cases, the court can execute a judgment against a defendant in an effort to reimburse the county or city for the public defender costs.
But defendants can always petition the court asking for these payments to be reduced or stopped completely if it would impose a “manifest hardship” on their family.
Another way defendants can pay back the county or city for the public defender is by performing community service.
Are private attorneys better than public defenders?
It is usually in a defendant’s best interest to hire his/her own private attorney if at all possible. Public defenders are fine lawyers, but they are severely overworked. They lack the time and resources to give their all to each client. In many cases, they do not look at a client file until the defendant’s name is called in court. And they often do not engage in the aggressive negotiation tactics necessary to secure a favorable resolution to a case.
Call our law firm for legal advice. We offer free consultations.
NRS 178.3975 to NRS 178.39802 – Recoupment of Expenses of Defense of Indigents
NRS 171.188 – Procedure of Appointment of Attorney for Indigent Defendant
NRS 260 – County Public Defenders
About the Author
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.