Another beautiful day in the Truckee Meadows!
Another beautiful day in the Truckee Meadows!
County Home => Public Defender => Frequently Asked Questions
Additional Pages

In order to qualify for the services of the Washoe County Public Defender`s Office, you have to be considered "indigent". Indigency is generally defined as not having enough resources to hire private counsel. That decision is made by Court Services and the judge presiding over the case and is based upon your current financial circumstances, including an examination of a person`s financial assets and liabilities. Most people, even if they qualify as indigent, are asked to make some financial contribution to the County for the services of the Public Defender, normally between $250 and $1000.
If the court appoints the Public Defender`s Office, you will receive a letter from us. The letter will tell you the name of the attorney who will be assisting you. You may also call our Front Desk at 775-337-4800 to find out this information.
Public Defenders are licensed attorneys. As such, they are bound by the same rules of ethics, including the rule that you may not represent someone when a conflict of interest arises. Conflicts of interest normally arise when the Washoe County Public Defender`s Office has previously represented a witness in a new case.

In order to accommodate this situation, Washoe County has created the Alternate Public Defender`s Office. Washoe County also has contracted with an outside group of private attorneys in case of conflicts within the APD office. Every case that comes into the Public Defender`s Office is immediately screened for conflicts of interest. Whenever such a conflict is detected, the case file is transferred to the Alternate Public Defender`s Office.
The Conflict Attorney Group is administered by the Washoe County Alternate Public Defenders Office. Their office phone number is 775-328-3955.
Yes. Certain drug offenses, excluding Trafficking, may allow you to qualify for Diversion. Diversion places you under the supervision of the State and Court, but allows you, after successful completion of the supervision, to move to have the charges dismissed and the record of the offense sealed. There are different programs available under Nevada law and you should discuss whether you are eligible, and which program might be best for you, with your attorney.
If you are arrested, the police will have to let you know that you have a right to an attorney before any questioning begins. If you are given the right to an attorney, it is probably for a good reason. Exercise and invoke your rights. If you want to talk to the police, do so AFTER you speak to an attorney. They will understand.
Not necessarily. The Miranda warning provides notice of the right against self-incrimination and protects a person from having their statements used against them if the statements are the product of a custodial interrogation.

If a court were to rule that such statements were inadmissible in court, that ruling would obviously have some impact on how the case would be resolved. Ultimately, the State would have to pursue the charge based upon other evidence. Unfortunately, the State may have `other evidence` independent of the inadmissible statement. If you have concerns about statements given to the police, please discuss the events with your attorney.
The location and time of your hearing should be on the letter you received from the Public Defender`s Office. If you don`t have that information, please contact our office at 775-337-4800. Also, this website has a Case Tracking page that will allow you to access information regarding the time and place for all District Court hearings. Go to
An arraignment is a hearing where an initial plea is entered to an offense. Normally, a person who is arrested and brought to the jail will have an arraignment conducted by video within 48 hours of their arrest. If a `not guilty` plea is entered, the court will normally ask the accused if they can afford private counsel. If the offense qualifies for the appointment for the services of the Public Defender`s Office, an application can be made.
A preliminary hearing is where the State must prove to a neutral magistrate that there is `probable cause` to believe that a crime has been committed, and that there is `probable cause` to believe that the accused committed the offense. This burden of proof must be met for the case to continue into District Court. The burden of proof, `probable cause`, is lower than required at a trial. At trial, the State has the burden of proving every element of the offense "beyond a reasonable doubt".
Failing to appear for a scheduled court appearance is a separate criminal offense and can be the basis for the issuance of a warrant. Failing to appear in court can also lead to the revocation of any bail or own recognizance release. If you fail to appear in court, you should contact your attorney immediately to see what actions can be taken on your behalf.
Please contact your attorney. Do not hide this information from your attorney. This is important information for counsel to consider when forming a plan to challenge the State`s case.
If you are arrested on a warrant, you should follow the advice given to any person that is arrested; ask to talk to an attorney. If you are arrested on a warrant for an offense that involves a case where a Public Defender was appointed, please call our office at 775-337-4800.
Obviously an arrest involves a tremendous loss of liberty. You will be photographed, fingerprinted, and asked to change into jail issue clothes. You should be allowed to make a phone call. Normally, you will be interviewed in order to gather information that will help the detention center determine the best way to house you safely. If you are taking medication or have other issues that might effect your placement at the jail, please notify jail staff or ask your family and friends to contact the detention center. If you have been appointed a Public Defender, you should also advise them of any issues that might effect your classification at the detention center.
Probation is a privilege and not a right. Probation is an opportunity to prove that you do not need to be incarcerated. When a person is placed on probation, the court normally enters a jail or prison sentence, but suspends the imposition of the sentence, provided that the defendant complies with certain requirements, such as reporting to a probation officer, not being arrested or convicted of new offenses while on probation, pay restitution, attending counseling or other conditions set out by the court.

If the court finds that a person violated probation, it means that they have not complied with the conditions set out by the court. The court can then impose the previously suspended sentence and place the defendant in jail or prison. It is very important to let your Public Defender know if the reason you were unable to comply was due to financial, substance abuse, or other issues, so that the court can consider the information and, hopefully, reinstate the term of probation.
Bail is a security, usually money or property, given to ensure that if an accused person is released from custody, they will still attend future court appearances.
The Law Library has information regarding sealing records. You can visit their website at
Yes. This is perhaps the most common misconception of the public. All Public Defenders have obtained a College degree and graduated from an accredited Law School. All Public Defenders have passed the Nevada Bar Exam and many are licensed to practice in both state and federal courts.
You can pay your fees at Washoe County Collections at 1001 E 9th St, Bldg D, Rm 120. You can also mail your payment to Washoe County Collections, PO box 11130, Reno, NV 89520. They accept all payment types including credit cards. You can call or email them for more information at (775) 328-2552 The Public Defender's office does not accept payments of any kind. All payments will need to be paid through the collections department.
The District Attorney is an elected official. The District Attorney is charged with the enforcement of laws in Washoe County and employs Deputy District Attorneys to assist in that effort.

The Washoe County Public Defender is appointed by the Board of County Commissioners. Every community must provide and fund attorneys for indigent persons facing a loss of liberty. The Public Defender employs Deputy Public Defenders to assist in the constitutional requirements set out by the United States Supreme Court and the Constitution of the United States.

While both offices are funded by the government, both offices serve independent functions.
If you are represented by an attorney, all motions and pleadings must be endorsed by your attorney. Motions and pleadings that are sent without the endorsement of the assigned attorney are generally considered fugitive documents and not considered by the court. A person should be very careful when they send documents to the court, as it is likely that the State prosecutor will be able to gain access to all documents in the court`s file and potentially use them against the accused.
Washoe County funds a state-of-the-art law library that is accessible to the general public. The Washoe County Law Library is located on the first floor of the District Court House at 75 Court Street, across from the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts. For information concerning the Library or hours of service, please call 775-328-3250.
The Public Defender`s Office does not represent victims of crime. If you are a victim of a crime, you should consult the Washoe County District Attorney`s Office at 775-328-3200.
The Washoe County Public Defender`s Office maintains a contract for interpretive services. The Office has interpretive services for most languages and has Spanish-speaking staff on site.

The Washoe County Public Defender`s Office also contracts with Language Line, a service that allows us on-demand access to 150 different language interpreters telephonically.
Yes and No. Public Defenders are licensed attorneys and have almost all of the same obligations of private attorneys. Because the services of the Public Defender are offered only in certain circumstances, Public Defenders do not maintain private trust accounts for legal fees and are exempt from certain other requirements regarding the safe-keeping of client assets. Otherwise, Public Defenders must act and perform in the same manner as private attorneys.
Remember, the Public Defender only represents persons facing a loss of liberty. A citation that only carries the possibility of a fine as punishment would not provide a basis for the court to appoint a Public Defender.

However, it is highly recommended that you consult with a private attorney before appearing in court on any legal matter.
The Washoe County Public Defender`s Office has a staff of 7 full-time investigators, including a Polygrapher and a Mitigation Specialist. If you are given the services of the Public Defender, the best way to have your case investigated is to communicate with your assigned attorney.
The Washoe County Detention Center is located at 911 Parr Boulevard, Reno, 89512. The detention facility is managed by the Washoe County Sheriff. Booking Information can be found at 775-328-3062. Visiting Information can be found at 775-328-2952.
Visiting is scheduled based upon the name of the detained person. Please call the Washoe County Detention Center Visiting Information at 775-328-2952. Please understand that the visit will likely be done in a secure setting.

Also, if you decide to call or accept a call from someone detained at the County jail, be aware that the phone call can be monitored and recorded. Please be careful in discussing the details of any accusation, as the conversation may create evidence to be used against the accused
If you wish to visit or contact a person who is in the Nevada Department of Corrections, you first need to determine where they are being housed. Nevada has several facilities that are used to house inmates. The Nevada Department of Corrections Administrative Offices can be reached at 775-887-3285. If you are unsure of the facility, you can also perform an Inmate Search on the Internet at Department of Corrections .
Juvenile offenses are not crimes. If you are under 18 years old and break the law, you may be charged with a delinquent act.
The law says that you must have a lawyer represent you in Juvenile Court, even if you have already decided to admit the charges. The Public Defender`s Office is appointed to represent every kid. You or your parents may hire a private attorney to represent you.
A Juvenile Case may start with one of three things: Arrest, Citation or Referral. If you are arrested you will be taken to a detention facility for kids. Or, the police may issue you a citation and call your parents or guardian. A referral may also be made to the Juvenile Services Department.
You may be released to your parents or guardian or you may be detained at the Jan Evans Juvenile Detention Center.
If you are detained at the detention facility you will have a hearing within 72 hours. A Judge will decide if you will be released and a Public Defender will represent you.
You must represent yourself in a positive way to the Judge. The Judge is making a decision about your future so your first impression is very important.
At this hearing you must answer the charges against you. If you deny the charges the Judge will set your case for trial.
At this hearing the Judge will decide what your consequences will be. It may be a fine, counseling, community service, etc.
Any minor who is at least 16 and married, OR living apart from legal guardians and is a resident of Washoe County, may ask the Juvenile Court for a decree of emancipation.
You should not live in fear. There are people you can tell, support groups you can join and places you can go. There are ways to protect yourself or someone you care about from being scared of getting hurt. Click on the menu for further information.
There are many resources to help deal with a family that is breaking up. Click on the menu for more information and places that you can get support.