Proper Courtroom Etiquette for Defendants

January 1, 2018 | By Shane Phelps Law
Proper Courtroom Etiquette for Defendants

If you are a defendant, how you behave in front of the judge and jury can either help or hurt your case. It is important to demonstrate proper courtroom etiquette to make a good impression in criminal court.

If you are not familiar with proper courtroom etiquette, the following are several guidelines to ensure you act your best when facing criminal charges:

Arrive to the hearing on time – It is best to show up to the courtroom at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appearance. However, being 30 minutes early can help you better prepare for your case with your attorney. This will give you enough time to anticipate unexpected situations, such as traffic and parking difficulties.

Be aware of your court case information – Ensure you have knowledge of the date and time of your hearing, your case name and number, and the department of your assigned case. Ensure you have copies of any documents you are required to submit. Just because you have a lawyer on your side, doesn’t mean you leave all of the work to him/her.

Dress appropriately – As we discussed in What to Wear in Court, wear clothing that is considered professional and appropriate for business. Avoid wearing casual or revealing attire.

Turn off your cell phone – Not only can a ringing cell phone be a major disruption, but your phone can also be confiscated by the bailiff. Ensure your cellphone is turned off or at least set on silent mode. Even a vibrating cell phone can be distracting.

Who says "all rise" in a courtroom?

The courtroom bailiff is responsible for instructing everyone to stand when the judge enters the courtroom. 

Do you have to stand for a judge?

Stand when the judge enters the courtroom – When the bailiff says “all rise” as the judge enters, show respect by standing until the judge says to be seated. This is intended to show respect for the criminal justice system. You must also stand when the judge leaves the courtroom.

Keep your emotions in check – Although the courtroom can be a highly emotional place, it is important to avoid making any type of facial expression, gesture, or outburst when the court is in session. When spoken to, always address the judge as “Your Honor” to show respect. Never interrupt when someone else is speaking, no matter what they say.

If you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Bryan or College Station, TX, contact Shane Phelps Law. today.