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Know Before You Go - What You Need To Know Before Your Upcoming Court Appearance

Many of our clients have never appeared in court, and as a result they have questions about what to expect. We want to answer some of those questions for you here. Below are a few courtroom basics that we hope you will find helpful in preparing for your first court appearance

 Here are a few things to know before you go:

1. Show up—on time!

One of the fastest ways to frustrate the prosecutor handling your case and the judge presiding is to not be present when they call your case up. If your notice to appear says 9:30 a.m., don’t pull into the parking lot at 9:30. You need to allow time to park, go through security, figure out which courtroom you are in, and wait for an elevator. It is a good idea to plan to be in the courtroom at least 15 minutes prior to your notice to appear, unless otherwise instructed by your attorney. We have experienced judges who issue bench warrants one minute after the notice to appear told you to be present, so don’t push your luck on something so easy.  Just get there early—and this goes without saying, but no you can’t just skip your court date.

2. Dress like it’s an important appointment—because it is…

Wear what you would wear to church or to an important interview or meeting. Don’t wear your Budweiser t-shirt that you got for free at some festival to your court appearance for DWI or have your marijuana leaf tattoo visible for your court appearance for possession of drug paraphernalia. No caps. No chewing gum. You are trying to communicate to the prosecutor and the judge that you take this seriously, and being dressed inappropriately for court is the first thing they will notice.

3. Be patient—sometimes good results take time…

While everyone in the courtroom is trying to move the docket as fast as possible, these things take time. Sometimes the lawyers need time to work out a resolution or issue in your case. Keep in mind that there are usually dozens of cases on the docket, so there is a lot of activity going on. Typically, if you have retained an attorney, you will get called up at the beginning of the docket.

4. Be the best-behaved person in the courtroom…

Sometimes people get testy during long days in court—don’t be this person. This means if the victim/opposing party/opposing counsel is in the courtroom, there is no need to speak to them, glare at them, or otherwise communicate with them. Don’t get on the elevators with opposing parties—it’s awkward—trust us. Let the lawyers do the arguing—that’s what you pay us for.

5. Don’t be the person whose cell phone rings…

Don’t let your cell phone make any noise at all in the courtroom—if the bailiff says turn them off, then please do that. Nobody wants their phone to be confiscated because they were defiant. It’s really best to leave your phone in the car altogether

We hope these tips help you feel well-prepared for your first court appearance. If you would like to consult us regarding your upcoming court appearance, call Gilmer & Giglio for an appointment at (318) 459-9111.