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Preparing for Your First Appearance in Criminal Court

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Preparing for Your First Appearance in Criminal Court


If you’ve never faced a criminal charge before, you are probably feeling anxious about what to expect, especially when you’re due to appear in front of a judge. However, a little preparation goes a long way. Below we’ve listed some idea of what to expect.

Initial Appearance

Depending on your jurisdiction, “initial appearance” could mean you are appearing in front of a judge for the first time, or it could mean your attorney will appear in front of a judge on your behalf. If you are going to need to make an appearance, understand it’s okay to be nervous. Experiencing dry mouth or getting flustered or tongue-tied is incredibly common. However, it’s unusual for a judge or court commissioner to become angry with a defendant who is scared or intimidated, but polite.

Remain Polite

It’s paramount to do your best to remain polite to everyone you encounter at any time. From the clerk or bailiff who checks you in to the court reporter to the judge, you should always say “please” and “thank you.” Likewise, always refer to the judge as “your honor,” which is a formal way of showing the judge respect. While not all judges view this as necessary, some might and will take offense if you don’t acknowledge their title.

Speaking in Court

If you have an attorney, you will likely not be talking much in court. He or she will act as your representative and will make arguments on your behalf. Usually, the first time you appear in court will be to set bail and / or to enter a plea.

Entering a Plea

Most people plead not guilty, and there is almost no reason to do anything differently. A not guilty plea can be changed to a guilty plea at any time incredibly easily; however, the opposite isn’t always true. Even if the prosecution has a lot of evidence against you, you should still see what he or she has to offer you.

Dress Appropriately

While you don’t need to wear a tuxedo, you should appear clean and well-groomed when you appear in court. For men, consider wearing a shirt and tie with nice jeans or slacks. For women, wear dress pants and a nice blouse, jeans, or a non-revealing dress.

For more information on what to do in your first appearance, or to get started on your defense, talk to our skilled Reno criminal defense attorney today. The Law Offices of Kenneth A. Stover is here to help.

Contact us at (775) 502-1575 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation today.

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