CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 ANNOUNCEMENT:
Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak the Alabama Supreme Court and the Tuscaloosa Courts have taken strict measures effectively suspending all court dockets and hearings until April 16, 2020. There are very few exceptions to these orders. Our Office is exercising “social distancing” through April 6, 2020 in an effort to do our part to stem the outbreak of this dangerous virus.
During this time, WE WILL NOT
- meet with clients or their family members in the office between now and April 6, 2020.
During this time, WE WILL
- continue to maintain our regular office hours of Monday - Friday, 8am - 5pm;
- speak with clients and family members over the telephone as appropriate;
- speak with clients on the jail video system (this is not a secure attorney-client communication so we will not discuss on that line sensitive information);
- attend hearings that fall within an exception and represent our clients therein.
We will make every effort to remain open and operational; however, we have established these visitation policies to protect the health of the employees of the Office of Public Defender, our clients and their families, and the general public as we do our part to socially distance ourselves in a responsible manner.
This policy is in effect and will continue to remain in effect until April 6, 2020, unless modified
General Guidelines for Clients:
If an attorney from the Public Defender’s Office has been appointed to represent you, we encourage you to get acquainted with your attorney as soon as possible to start working on your case. Your telephone calls and e-mail inquiries are important to us, and we take our jobs as your advocates very seriously., please review the information in this section about the criminal justice system and our local court system an stay in touch with your lawyer.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, our staff will do everything in our power to provide you with high quality representation. For those of you who are family members or friends of an individual who has been charged with a crime, we encourage you to lend your support to the person charged. The criminal justice system can be very trying and difficult to understand.
Contacting your Attorney:
Communicating with your attorney is critically important. Your attorney must know everything you know about the case in order to effectively represent you. Please provide your attorney with a complete list of ways in which he or she can get in touch with you. That would include your home address and phone number and addresses and phone numbers of anybody who would knwo where you are at any given time. It is sometimes important for us to get in touch with you on very short notice. Therefore, we need as much contact information as possible. We also need to know how to get in touch with you when you are at work.
Your personal involvement is critical to the successful resolution of your case. Please help us work toward a good resolution in your case. Keep in touch with your lawyer. Please schedule and attend all office appointments with your attorney. Let him or her know how to get in touch with you. Leave us current phone numbers, both yours and a family member’s. Let us know where you are living. Often we will communicate with you by letter and may have a need to contact you on extremely short notice. Also, we will keep the court up to date as to your address to ensure you continue to get all court notices, and avoid writs for your arrest for failing to appear in court.
Changes of Address:
If during the course of our representation, any of your addresses change or you change jobs, please let your attorney know your new address and phone number immediately.
Appearing in court:
If you are on bond and you have met with your lawyer before court, you should have a good idea of what to expect when you come to court. One of the great advantages to being acquainted with your public defender – besides good representation – is having a “heads up” about how the courts operate, and how the procedure works.
When you are scheduled to appear in court in Tuscaloosa County as the defendant in a criminal prosecution, your public defender realizes that you are under a lot of pressure. Anxiety about being charged with a crime is understandable, and many people dread coming to court.
However, we cannot emphasize enough how doubly important it is to appear in court as scheduled, and on time. Judges are strict about appearance in court. Please do not fail to appear in court, and please show up on time.
If you are sick, or if some other urgent situation prevents you from coming to court, contact your lawyer as soon as you realize you will be unable to come to court. Be as detailed as possible about why you will be unable to come to court. Your lawyer will do his or her best to get a continuance on your case if you are unable to appear in court, but we cannot guarantee any outcome, and sometimes the Court will issue a writ for your arrest for failing to appear. This means you could be arrested and put in jail. However, there is still a chance to avoid going to jail. Your lawyer can arrange for you to appear in court to try to “set aside” the writ, which means you would get a new court date and remain free on bond. The best thing to do in all situations is to stay in touch with your lawyer.
When you come to court, appropriate dress and other protocols are important to observe. Dress as conservatively as you can. Do not bring food or drink into the courtroom. Be sure to turn your cell phone off or on silent mode. Try to make child care arrangements before court if you can, or at least bring a friend who can stay outside the courtroom with your child.
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.