A Criminal Defense Lawyer descibes the Nevada Definition of a Public Officer in Nevada NRS 169.164

Public officers are entrusted with performing or providing government services.  Public officers are typically elected or are appointed, and must fulfill the duties assigned to them while upholding their obligations under state and federal law.  Defining who is a public officer is important, because public officers may be provided with special protections and rights under the law and because public officers may also be held to higher standards or subject to strict codes of conduct prohibiting corrupt behavior.

The state of Nevada establishes one definition of public officer in Nevada Revised State Section 169.175, which is part of the Nevada Code Section setting forth preliminary provisions and establishing guidelines for procedure in criminal cases.  Defendants need to know what public officer means, and when it matters under criminal law whether they are interacting with a public officer or not.

Nick Wooldridge and his talented team has extensive experience with all laws of criminal procedure in Nevada. When you are on trial, you need a top criminal lawyer who can help you to understand the court process, assert your rights, and defend your interests from your first interactions with the criminal justice system.  Call today to learn why you should trust our legal team to provide the representation necessary for your case.

What is the Definition of a Public Officer

 According to Nevada Revised Statute section 169.175, a public officer is defined as an appointed or elected official who fills a position established by the constitution; by state statute; or by any charter or ordinance of political subdivision within the state.

Any individual who regularly carries out public powers or fulfills public duties on a continuous basis or as part of routine government administration can also be considered a public officer.

Why Does the Definition of Public Officer Matter?

The definition of public officer matters for many reasons in a criminal case. Under Nevada Revised Statute Section 197.190, for example, state law makes it a crime to obstruct a public officer.  If you have due notice that an individual is a public officer and you refuse or neglect to make statements to that officer when required to do so by law, you may be guilty of a misdemeanor crime.  Likewise, if you make willfully false, exaggerated statements, or misleading statements to a public officer, you can also be charged with obstruction.

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Nick Wooldridge has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in Nevada.


In the context of a criminal investigation or trial, witnesses or defendants who lie to police, prosecutors, judges, or any public officers could thus find themselves charged and potentially convicted of a criminal offense.

There are also many other situations in criminal cases where an individual’s role as a public officer matters.  For example, bribery of a public officer is illegal under N.R.S. 197.020; interfering with a public officer’s performance of duties is illegal under N.R.S. 197.090, and fraudulently presenting claims to public officers are illegal under N.R.S. 197.160.

A Public Officer’s Rights and Obligations

Public officers are subject to many requirements as part of fulfilling their official duties. Official misconduct, including accepting compensation or rewards to omit or defer the performance of a legal duty, is prohibited by N.R.S. 191.110 and public officers are prohibited from making false reports or issuing false certificates under N.R.S. 197.130 and N.R.S. 197.140.

While public officers are subject to many laws intended to ensure they carry out their duties with scrupulous honesty, they are also protected from criminal conviction for certain actions that are necessary in the line of duty.  For example, public officers are justified in homicide under  circumstances outlined in N.R.S. 200.140, including when lawfully suppressing riots or when lawfully attempting to apprehend and arrest a person.

How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

LV Criminal Defense provides representation to public officers accused of misconduct in the line of duty, or who have been charged with homicide and wish to argue their actions were justifiable in carrying out their duty to the public.

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When I initially met with Mr. Wooldridge, he took the opportunity to sit and go over my problem with me. He described details in my case which he found disturbing and explained why he I should have him on my side.

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Our experienced legal team also provides assistance to clients who are navigating the criminal process- including both defendants and witnesses- who are concerned about accusations of making false statements to public officers or otherwise violating the law with respect to public officials.  Our attorneys understand Nevada criminal procedures and we guide every client through the criminal process with the goal of getting out with the minimum penalties possible in light of charges and available evidence.

To learn more about the legal services that we can offer to clients, or for help with any aspect of your criminal case, contact us today.

More Information

The criminal process in Nevada involves many “characters” and personalities, as well as written rules and unwritten procedures. A conviction can result in a loss of freedom due to jail time and loss of rights to custody of children, immigration status, to carry a weapon, to vote, or the right to work in certain industries. For sex crimes, you may be required to register as a sex offender which can be devastating to your future.

Due to the complexity of the system and the potential loss of significant rights, your best bet is to retain LV Criminal Defense – a group of  highly qualified and experienced criminal defense lawyers who can defend you if you have been arrested.