How Can I Pay For My Defense?


This article is not intended as advice for your specific matter.  Rather, it is a general article about Nevada law.  If you have questions about your particular case, please call Mueller, Hinds and Associates, Chtd. immediately at (702) 940-1234.  This information is valid as of January 26, 2018.

Being charged with a crime can be a terrifying experience by itself and without considering the costs of preparing your defense. You may be required to pay bail or for a bondsman, pay for your own house arrest or GPS monitoring and then have to gather money for an attorney. You do not have to pay for an attorney if you cannot afford one because the courts will appoint a public defender to represent you.

If you barely have enough money to hire an attorney, you would be like most Americans. The problem is that the expenses do not always stop there. Your case may require an expert to explain a concept or conclusion to the jury or a detective to track down evidence and witnesses and those costs can be enormous.

If you cannot afford such an expert or detective, you can ask the courts in Nevada to order that their expenses be paid by the State of Nevada or county under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In Brown v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Ct., et al., 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 113 (Dec. 28, 2017), the Court reaffirmed this right to representation based on being “indigent” under Widdis v. Second Judicial Dist. Ct., 114 Nev. 1224, 968 P.2d 1165 (1998). Under Brown and Widdis, “a defendant is entitled to reasonable and necessary defense services at public expense if the defendant demonstrates both indigency and a need for the requested services.”

What is an “indigent” person and what “need” must be shown? In Brown, the defendant asked the lower court to pay for the expert testimony of a psychologist and services of a detective, but the court found that because the defendant was employed, he could not qualify as indigent, the services were not necessary and the request had to be for a certain specific amount. The Court exercised discretion to hear the defendant’s writ of mandamus “in order to control a manifest abuse or capricious exercise of discretion.” See State v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 127 Nev. 927, 932, 267 P.3d 777, 780 (2011) (“A manifest abuse of discretion is [a] clearly erroneous interpretation of the law or a clearly erroneous application of a law or rule.”).

The Court defined “indigency” as being “unable, without substantial hardship to himself or his dependents, to obtain competently, qualified legal counsel on his or her own” citing ADKT No. 411, In the Matter of the Review of Issues Concerning Representation of Indigent Defendants in Criminal and Juvenile Delinquency Cases, an administrative order dated Jan. 4, 2008. The determination does not require “a demonstration that the person ‘is entirely destitute and without funds.” See Rodriquez v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Ct., 120 Nev. 798, 805-06 (2004).

With respect to the level of need that was necessary, the Court found that where the defendant must show the request “reasonably necessary,” and found the defendant had made such a showing. The Court reversed the decision and instructed the district court to “vacate its order denying Brown’s motion for expert services at public expense and to reconsider the motion consistent with this opinion.

Have you or a loved one been accused of a crime and cannot afford to hire experts and investigators? Contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Mueller Hinds & Associates for a free consultation.