What is the difference between the Public Defender's office and the Alternate Public Defender's Office?

The Washoe County Public Defender's Office initially takes every case where a person has been appointed a lawyer. The cases are then screened by staff members to see if there is a conflict of interest. Conflicts of interest can arise if the Public Defender has represented a victim or witness in a case, or if there is more than one defendant charged with the crime. If the Public Defender's Office determines that there is a legal reason it cannot represent a person, then that case is sent to the Alternate Public Defender's Office.

If the Alternate Public Defender’s office also has a conflict of interest, then a private lawyer who contracts with Washoe County will handle the case.