Public Defenders vs Private Attorneys: Which One to Choose in Nevada?

If you are facing criminal charges in Nevada, you will need to choose between hiring a private attorney or working with a public defender. Both options have their pros and cons, and it is essential to understand these differences to make an informed decision.

In this article, we will explore the main differences between public defenders and private attorneys in Nevada, and give you the insights you need to make the right decision.

What Are Public Defenders?

Public defenders are attorneys who work for the government and are appointed to represent criminal defendants who cannot afford an attorney. Public defenders work for the state and federal governments, and their primary mission is to represent indigent defendants.

Public defenders handle a wide range of criminal cases, such as felony and misdemeanor cases, juvenile cases, and appeals. They are responsible for conducting investigations, researching laws, interviewing witnesses, negotiating with prosecutors, and representing clients in court.

If you watched any US movie and/or TV show when someone is getting arrested, you’d often hear the arresting officer say out the Miranda rights. If you paid attention, there’s a part about getting a lawyer which reads: “If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you.” This is what public defenders provide.

What Are Private Attorneys?

Private attorneys are lawyers who represent clients for a fee. They are not employed by the government and can choose what kinds of cases they accept. Private attorneys can be hired by individuals, corporations, or other entities, and they handle a wide range of legal matters, not just criminal law.

Private attorneys often have more resources than public defenders, which can give them an advantage in some cases. Private attorneys are typically more selective in the cases they take, so clients may receive more specialized attention and have more control over their representation.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Which One to Represent You in Court

Facing criminal charges can be an incredibly daunting experience, especially when you don’t know whether to choose a public defender or a private attorney. This is a conundrum that many people in Nevada face when navigating the criminal justice system.

Below, we listed the top criteria or factors that you need to look into before deciding which one to represent your case:


One of the most significant differences between public defenders and private attorneys is cost.

Public defenders are appointed by the court and paid by the government, so there is no cost to the defendant. Private attorneys charge fees that can vary depending on the type of case and the attorney’s experience.


Another factor is quality. Public defenders are experienced attorneys who have been appointed by the court to represent criminal defendants. While they may be overworked due to high caseloads, they have the skills and experience necessary to provide adequate representation.

Private attorneys vary in quality and experience. Clients must do their research to find an attorney who has the right expertise and experience to handle their case.

For example, if you are facing DUI charges, you definitely want to hire an attorney that has experience handling DUI cases.

Communication & Service

One of the primary concerns people have when choosing a public defender is whether they will receive the same level of attention and dedication as they would with a private attorney. It’s a valid concern, as public defenders are often overworked and understaffed. They may have to represent multiple clients at once, leaving little time and energy to dedicate to each case.

On the other hand, private attorneys have more time and resource to dedicate to their clients. They may have a smaller caseload, meaning they can spend more time getting to know the nuances of each case and building a strong defense strategy. Private attorneys are also more accessible to their clients, as they aren’t tied up with other court-appointed cases.

Access to Resources

Public defenders often have limited resources due to their caseloads and limited funding. They may be unable to invest the same amount of time or resources in a case as a private attorney.

Private attorneys typically have more resources and can dedicate more time to a case. They may work with investigators, forensic experts, and other professionals who can help build a stronger defense.

Ultimately, the decision to choose a public defender or a private attorney will depend on several factors, including the severity of the crime, the level of experience of the attorneys, and the client’s ability to pay. It’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons of both options carefully and seek advice from trusted sources to make an informed decision. With the right legal representation, individuals facing criminal charges can increase their chances of obtaining a favorable outcome and moving on with their lives.

Pros and Cons of Public Defenders and Private Attorneys in Nevada

Below are the pros and cons for hiring either a public defender or a private attorney to represent you:

Hiring a Public Defenders: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
No cost to the defendant A heavier caseload that may result in less individual attention to clients
Experienced attorneys with a broad range of expertise Limited resources to provide a rigorous defense
Navigating the criminal system with less conflict of interests than a private attorney would have Selection of an attorney is outside of the defendant’s control


Hiring a Private Attorney: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
More time and resources available to dedicate to a defendant’s case Costly fees that can vary widely
More control over the selection of an attorney Quality varies depending on the attorney’s experience and expertise
Higher level of expertise or specialization in specific cases Conflicts of interests may arise due to a personal or professional relationship with an individual in the state’s department.

Examples of Cases

In Nevada, there have been several high-profile cases where defendants have opted for private attorneys or public defenders. In 2007, O.J. Simpson hired a private attorney to handle his robbery case about a Las Vegas hotel casino sports memorabilia.

How to Choose a Reputable Attorney

When selecting an attorney in Nevada, it is essential to choose someone who is knowledgeable about criminal law and has experience handling cases like yours. You should do your research and read reviews of attorneys in your area to find someone who is reputable and trustworthy.

It is also crucial to consider the cost of the lawyer’s fees and any hidden costs, such as charges for investigators or researchers. If you are eligible for a public defender, you may want to consider this option.

For example, if you are facing DUI charges, it’s best to find an attorney that has experience in this area, rather than someone who has only represented clients in white collar crimes, for example. Someone who knows DUI laws in and out has a better chance of representing you than someone who still needs to brush up on it. While cost is an important factor when selecting a lawyer, you should not sacrifice quality for affordability.

No matter your choice of representation, having the right legal counsel on your side can mean the difference between winning and losing a case in Nevada.

Facing Criminal Charges? Contact The Defenders

Choosing between a public defender and a private attorney in Nevada is a critical decision that can impact the outcome of your case. While public defenders are affordable options for individuals who cannot afford a private attorney, the level of individualized attention may be limited. Private attorneys can provide more resources, but can be costly.

At The Defenders, we are dedicated to providing the highest quality of legal representation at an affordable cost. Our experienced attorneys have handled thousands of cases across Nevada and offer specialized services in criminal defense and DUI law. Contact us today to discuss your case and get personalized advice from our team of experts.

No matter what you decide, The Defenders are here to help. We will work with you throughout the legal process and provide personalized attention to ensure that your rights remain protected. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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