What can I do to help with my case?
  • You should never discuss the facts of your case with anyone but a lawyer or staff of the Cowlitz County Office of Public Defense.
  • Make sure that your lawyer has an accurate address and phone number for you. Immediately notify the office if this information changes. Contact your lawyer as soon as you get a letter from the office advising you to do so and show up for your scheduled appointments.
  • When you are in jail, avoid discussing the facts of your case with others, visitors, and people you call on the phone (other than employees of the Cowlitz County Office of Public Defense). Remember all non-law-office calls from the Cowlitz County Jail are recorded and may be used against you in trial or as the basis for additional criminal charges against you.
  • When you are in jail, do not send letters discussing your case to anyone, as letters may be intercepted by law enforcement and used against you at trial. Avoid discussing the facts of your case in postal mail and emails.
  •  Provide your lawyer with a list of potential witnesses as soon as possible, with accurate telephone numbers where they may be reached at least and addresses where they can receive mail if possible.
  • Come to all your court dates. Unless your lawyer has told you personally that you are excused, you must come to court when the court order says. If you miss court, even if you might have a good excuse, there can be serious consequences, including being arrested and charged with a new crime. You may be inconvenienced by missing work or changing a medical appointment, but your boss or your doctor can’t have you arrested if you don’t show up. A judge can, and will put you in jail and possibly keep you there, if you don’t appear in court as ordered.
  • Be on time for court.
  • Dress for court as seriously as you would for a job interview or for any other appointment that could affect your future.

Show All Answers

1. Is my public defender a “real lawyer”?
2. Since you’re paid by the government, the same as prosecutors, aren’t you just working together?
3. Can I call or drop by the Cowlitz County Office of Public Defense for some quick legal advice?
4. What is an arraignment?
5. What is a pre-trial hearing?
6. What is a trial readiness hearing?
7. What happens in trial?
8. What happens in a sentencing hearing?
9. How does COVID-19 impact my court hearings?
10. How do I discuss my case with my attorney during COVID-19?
11. What is a bench warrant, and what can I do if I have one?
12. What if I have a prior conviction for possession of controlled substance, aka Violation of Uniformed Controlled Substance Act (VUCSA)?
13. Why hasn’t my attorney gotten my case dropped?
14. What if I forgot my court date?
15. How do I get my record vacated/sealed?
16. If I have a problem with my court-appointed lawyer, how do I complain?
17. What can I do to help with my case?