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What has happened in court? How long ago did the accident happen? Has the nephew agreed to take the plea yet?
First off, there's no guarantee he won't face jail time no matter who you hire. However, a retained lawyer will almost certainly put more time into the case than one who is court appointed.
That's the main advantage, a private lawyer only takes on the number of cases they can handle while a public defender normally gets overloaded.
Yes, you still have time to go and hire a lawyer. You can likely find one tomorrow and meet with them on the next day and then they will take over trying to get substituted into the case.
You can find a lawyer by going to www.lawyers.com and entering Criminal Law in the section for area of practice.
The lawyer may also want to look into whether that bump on your nephew's head could have caused him to black out, which would be a defense.