When it comes to starting your case on the best foot, preparation is key. You want your first initial appearance in criminal court to go well in order to earn the judge’s favor, which can have numerous benefits. However, for those who have never had a run-in with the law before, you may not know what to expect or how to prepare. On this blog, our attorneys discuss five valuable tips to remember in order to better prepare for your first day in criminal court.
1. Dress Appropriately
A courtroom is a serious place that deserves and commands a lot of respect, and you would do well to show that respect by the way you dress. The most common guideline a number of people give is “dress for church,” but that’s not always correct (a number of new churches actually encourage very casual dress).
For gentlemen, a button-down shirt and tie along with slacks and dress shoes are encouraged. If you have a business suit, we highly encourage you to wear it. Don’t wear any loud colors, except for maybe a tasteful tie selection. For ladies, don’t wear anything too revealing. Keep your skirts at least knee-length, or wear a nice suit if you have one. All shoes should be close-toed, and keep your heels to a minimum, an inch or two at the maximum. Both sexes should groom their hair nicely, cover all easily-coverable tattoos, and remove any piercings other than small, simple earrings in the lobe of the ear.
2. Don’t Be Late
Being late is not a good way to begin your case. Not only is it a waste of your attorney’s time, your prosecution’s time, and the judge’s time (all of whom find this very annoying), but it can set back the entire court schedule. It’s also a very poor reflection of your character, which really hampers any appeals to character that your attorney may have been planning on using to support you. Plan ahead for any traffic you may face in getting to your courthouse and be sure you plan to arrive 15-30 minutes before your initial arrival time. This will allow you enough time to get through courtroom security and prepare for your case.
3. Be Polite at All Times
This absolutely cannot be stressed enough. Your conduct outside of the courtroom will make its way to the judge as well as your in-court conduct. Be polite to everyone, whether they’re the security guard who monitors you at the door, the clerk who checks you in, or the bailiff who reads off your case. Judges deeply care about their staff, and they will likely hear about any mistreatment quickly. On the other hand, gaining the favor of the clerks by being polite and easy to work with can help you by getting better court schedules and more, which can have a positive impact on your case.
This has only recently become a serious issue, but turn your cell phone off for the entirety of the court proceedings. Not just on vibrate; off completely. Cell phone use is not allowed in a courtroom, and checking your phone, particularly while someone else is talking, is extraordinarily rude. This is a good way to get on your judge’s bad side almost instantly.
4. You Will Be Nervous… And That’s Okay
If you’ve never had to go to court before, you probably don’t know what to expect, so you’ll probably be pretty nervous. That’s totally okay. It’s not uncommon to get dry-mouthed or stumble over words a bit when under pressure in front of a judge. For the most part, so long as you’re polite and not using nerves as an obvious stalling tactic, judges are more than willing to work with you if you’re scared or intimidated.
5. Don’t Speak Out of Turn
If you have quality representation you likely will not have to say much, if anything at all, so you should sit quietly and pay attention to who is speaking at all times. You should never speak out of turn, particularly if you are being spoken to directly. Even if you feel as though the prosecution in your case is treating you extremely unfairly or making wildly false accusations, allow your attorney to object for you on your behalf. Not only is it their job that you have hired them to do, but they may be holding onto their objection for the opportune moment as a strategy move to benefit you and your case.
Perhaps the single most important aspect to preparing for your first criminal court appearance is to retain a high-quality Bryan criminal defense attorney who can assist you. The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C. has extensive experience standing by clients who are facing all sorts of criminal accusations, including DUI charges, theft crimes, violent crimes, drug crimes, and more. Trust your case to a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist and know that we are dedicated to helping you get the result you need in your case.Get started with your case with a free initial consultation! Call The Law Office of Shane Phelps, P.C. today at (979) 773.7028.