10 Things to Know Before You Appear in Court
Going to court can be a stressful experience. The more prepared you are, the less anxiety you will have about the entire process. The most important thing to remember is that if you are ordered to appear in court, you must show up in person or risk a warrant being issued for your arrest. Always consult with your attorney to determine what steps you should take prior to your appearance.
At Maverick Ray & Associates, we provide aggressive representation for people charged with crimes in Houston and throughout Texas. Our experienced legal team will fight to get you a favorable outcome, taking your case to trial if the prosecutor will not negotiate a fair deal. Call our office at (281) 672-8029 for a free consultation.
1. Get an Attorney
If you are charged with a crime and don’t have an attorney, get one now. You need a lawyer to represent you in criminal matters. Your best chances at getting the charges reduced or dismissed are with the help of a highly qualified attorney.
2. Do Your Homework
Do not wait until the morning of your hearing to figure out where the court is located or the best route to avoid traffic. Do your homework in the days and weeks leading up to the appearance to ensure that you know where you are going.
Follow these tips to ensure a smooth court appearance:
- Map out how to get to the courthouse;
- Add ample time for traffic, car problems, and other issues that may arise;
- Discuss with your lawyer where you are meeting;
- Find the courtroom and wait for your attorney; and
- Never speak to someone about your case unless it is your attorney.
Your notice to appear will have a specific time on it but plan to appear at least 10-15 minutes earlier. Do not be late. It is better to arrive early and have to wait a few minutes than to be late and have everyone waiting on you.
3. Dress to Impress
If you are appearing in court, you should be dressed in your Sunday’s best. Wear a suit or professional attire. Do not wear anything that is too distracting, offensive, or provocative. Some courts have additional restrictions, including no hats, bandanas, or baggy clothing.
Discuss with your attorney ahead of time to make sure that what you are wearing will be appropriate. You can also plan ahead if you need to borrow or rent the necessary attire.
4. Plan for a Long Day (or Days)
The court hearing should be your top priority. Everything else becomes secondary unless it is an emergency. Plan to be at court all day. With any court appearance, there tends to be a lot of waiting. Expect it and make sure that you have scheduled the time off work, someone to pick up the kids, or anything else that needs to be done throughout the day.
If you are going to trial, plan to be there all day, every day. Your attorney can give you a reasonable estimate as to how long the trial should take.
5. Watch What You Say and Do
In a court hearing or trial, you are under a microscope. All of the things you say or do can work against you. Do not be smug or arrogant. Remain respectful at all times and watch what you say in elevators, hallways, and anywhere around the courthouse. You never know who may be listening.
At a court appearance, remember:
- Do not talk to jurors.
- Do not chew gum, eat, or drink in the courtroom.
- Stay awake.
- Turn off your cell phone.
- Do not speak out of turn.
- Write down questions for your attorney.
- Do not roll your eyes or make faces.
- Avoid staring at the jurors.
By knowing what to expect, you can help control your emotions. Your attorney will go over what will happen at each stage of the hearing or trial. You should be prepared for best and worst-case scenarios so that you can remain calm regardless of the outcome.
6. Be Respectful
Be respectful to everyone in and out of the courtroom. When the judge enters, you should stand up. Never speak unless you are asked to and always address the judge professionally.
Your respect should extend beyond the judge to everyone else involved in the proceedings, whether it is a clerk, court reporter, bailiff, or prosecutor.
7. Be Prepared for Continuances
Perhaps one of the most frustrating things for anyone involved in the criminal justice system is continuances. Continuances happen all the time. Be prepared for the fact that your case could get continued.
In some cases, it may be your attorney requesting the continuance. In others, it may be the prosecutor. There may even be times where the case gets continued because there are not enough courtrooms.
Your attorney will argue on your behalf if a continuance is not warranted or violates your constitutional rights.
8. Stay Off of Social Media
When an attorney says do not talk about your case, they mean do not talk about your case. Stay off of social media. Your posts can affect how you are perceived in court or worse.
9. Never Bring a Weapon to Court
It may seem obvious, but never, under any circumstances, bring a weapon to court. Never. Even if it is something that is not a weapon but looks like a weapon, leave it at home. You can also review the court’s list of prohibited items or discuss it with your attorney.
10. Know the Facts
Finally, know the facts of your case. Read all of the documents, including the police report and any other important information that may affect the outcome. Be ready with questions after the appearance. Make sure that you fully understand what could happen at the end of the hearing or trial and prepare your family.
Facing Criminal Charges? Contact Our Office for a Free Consultation.
If you are facing criminal charges in Houston, contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation. At Maverick Ray & Associates, we believe that everyone deserves a fearless advocate that will passionately defend their rights. Call our office at (281) 672-8029 to discuss your case directly with a trial attorney.
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