Preparing for a courtroom appearance may have you worried if you have never been before or have only had negative experiences in the past. The courtroom can seem like a foreign country for those who are unfamiliar with what goes on inside, but a little bit of preparation can go a long way in making you feel more comfortable with the process that you are about to experience. Having an idea for what the process will be like and what is expected from you can help you put your best foot forward in order to get the best outcome possible for your case.
First Impressions are Important
The moment that you walk through the door into the courtroom, you are being watching and looked over by both the judge and the jury. It may seem unfair, but that is just part of human nature. In order to start your court appearance in the best way possible, it’s important that you strive to make a good first impression. One of the most important things that you can do to kick off your hearing on a positive note is to show up on time. Arriving early is even better, but do not be late. Showing up on time implies that you are taking the process seriously and that the outcome is important to you. It’s best to plan for a little bit of extra time so that you can take into account travel time, parking, and getting through security.
While you may think that it shouldn’t matter what you wear into the courtroom, the fact of the matter is that your appearance can affect the outcome of your case. Dressing appropriately can help you leave a good impression on the judge and suggests that you understand the importance of the situation at hand. Appropriate court attire includes:
- Dress shirts
- Conservative shoes
You should aim to look as neat and tidy as possible for your court appearance so that you can show respect for the judge’s authority and the courtroom.
Leave Kids at Home
Bringing your children to court is not a good idea, unless they are a victim or a witness. The courtroom setting is not an appropriate place for small children, as some of the topics discussed there are difficult even for adults to listen to. Additionally, children are also often hard to keep quiet and wrestling with a toddler is not a good way to show that you are paying full attention to your hearing. It’s a good idea to arrange for babysitting on the day that you need to be in court. While it can be difficult to find help for a long stretch of time, it is worth it when the outcome of your case may be at risk.
Treat the Judge with Respect
If you have never been inside a courtroom before, you may not know that there is specific protocol when it comes to your interactions with the judge. When the judge enters, stand immediately and wait for him or her to take a seat. Typically a court officer will signal when to sit and stand, so be aware and keep your eyes peeled for the signals. Any time the judge addresses you, you should remain standing. When you answer the judge, make sure that you speak clearly and directly to the judge and not to anyone else in the courtroom. The judge should always be addressed as “your honor,” showing respect to their position. It can be tempting to want to defend yourself at one time or another, but it’s important that you don’t speak unless you are told to do so and avoid arguing when you do speak.
Speak with a Lawyer
One of the best ways that you can prepare yourself for a courtroom appearance is by speaking with someone who has a lot of experience. Attorneys spend hours inside the courtroom and know the best advice to give someone who is attending for the first time. If you already have a lawyer for your case, make sure to ask to spend some time discussing courtroom etiquette and their expectations for your day in court. If you don’t have a lawyer, it may be a good idea to hire one for consulting purposes. If that is not an option, you can certainly call the court and ask for help from one of the personnel that works there.