Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Public Defender?
An Assistant Public Defender is a lawyer provided by the Office of the Public Defender to represent persons charged with criminal offenses who cannot afford to hire a private attorney. Assistant Public Defenders are hired by the Tuscaloosa County Public Defender.
Are Public Defenders “real lawyers”?
All Assistant Public Defenders are licensed attorneys who have completed law school and are sworn members of the Alabama State Bar. Assistant Public Defenders are full-time employees of the Office. Their entire careers and caseloads are dedicated to criminal defense matters.
How do I get a Public Defender?
You must be appointed a public defender by a judge. If the judge appoints the Office of Public Defender to represent you, your case will be assigned to an attorney within the office, unless the office has a conflict of interest. In that case, the office will move to withdraw and a private attorney will be appointed to represent you in your case.
Are all appointed lawyers Public Defenders?
No. Assistant Public Defenders are attorneys hired full-time by the Office of Public Defender, Tuscaloosa County. The majority of clients who are unable to afford to hire an attorney and are appointed counsel by the court, have the Office of the Public Defender appointed as their attorneys. In some cases, however, the Office of the Public Defender may be unable to represent a person unable to afford to hire an attorney and may seek to withdraw from the representation. At that point, the court will appoint a private attorney, who does not work for the Office of Public Defender.
When should I come to your office and what should I bring?
Whenever you come to the Office to meet with an Assistant Public Defender or other representative of the Public Defender Office, you should bring any paperwork related to your case.
If I am in jail, how do I contact the Public Defender?
A representative from the Office of Public Defender will come visit you once we have been appointed by the Court. That happens after the judicial magistrate comes to the jail and meets with you, and you complete an Affidavit of Indigency. Once the Affidavit is completed, it is returned to the judge for appointment of counsel.
When should I call my Public Defender?
You should contact your Public Defender as soon as you have been notified that the Court has appointed you the Public Defender.
Should I discuss my case with anyone other than my assigned Assistant Public Defender or a representative from the Office of the Public Defender?
No. It is very important that you do not talk to anyone about your case without your assigned Assistant Public Defender or another representative of the Office of the Public Defender being present or without him/her giving you permission to do so.
If I am arrested, should I talk to the police?
If you are arrested, you should request to speak with a lawyer and you should obtain advice from a lawyer before answering any police questions.
I forgot my court date. How do I find out when it is?
You may call the Court Clerk’s Office or, if you are assigned the Office of the Public Defender, contact your attorney at the Office of the Public Defender for assistance. If you are appointed a private attorney you should contact the Court Clerk’s Office or the attorney’s office directly for assistance.
Tuscaloosa County Office of Public Defender
714 Greensboro Ave.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401
Or use our contact form.
Check our website to learn more about Tuscaloosa County Office of Public Defender and how we can help you with your legal needs.