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Preparing For Your First Criminal Court Appearance

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Preparing For Your First Criminal Court Appearance


Going to court for the first time can be a frightening prospect, especially when it is for criminal allegations. Many people have no familiarity with this situation, making it all the more intimidating.

If you are facing criminal charges proper planning can help you stay calm throughout the process, and it could increase your chances of success.

To help you gain clarity about what lies ahead, let’s take a look at how you should prepare for your initial criminal court hearing.

Dress Professionally

You may feel inclined to showcase your personality through appearance, but this is not the time for that.

Instead, opt for a neutral and conservative outfit that doesn't draw too much attention. Covering any body modifications, like tattoos or piercings, will help you appear respectful and responsible. Leave any hats at home, and don’t wear something with a logo or loud colors.

Make sure your behavior fits the tone of the situation. It may seem like a small detail, but even something as simple as chewing gum can come off as unprofessional.

Allow Yourself to Be Nervous

Your first time in criminal court can be a nerve-wracking experience. It's normal to feel a sense of anxiety and apprehension.

You may find yourself struggling to form coherent thoughts or words when your nerves get the best of you. Common physical symptoms associated with nervousness include a dry mouth, getting tongue-tied, or growing flustered.

A judge understands this fact, especially if you’ve never dealt with this experience before. Allow yourself to feel nervous, apologize if you mess up, but keep moving. If you focus on the sensations, you may start to get anxious about trying to overcome them, and that only makes the situation worse.

To effectively calm your nerves, take a deep breath and compose yourself. Remember, you are not alone, and many people have gone through this experience.

Remain Polite

If it's your first time in criminal court, you want to make a good impression. Be polite to everyone you come across, from the clerk to the prosecuting attorney. When it's time to enter your plea, speak clearly and loudly, so the judge can hear you. Always respond to the judge with "Yes, your honor" or "No, your honor."

Most importantly, do not disrupt or interrupt the judge or anyone else in the courtroom. Speak only when spoken to, and remember to remain respectful and attentive throughout the proceedings.

Be Punctual

A late arrival delays the proceedings and irritates the judge.

Keep in mind that the judges maintain a busy schedule. You are just one of many cases they are hearing that day. They have no personal connection to you, and lateness could turn their attitude toward you sour.

Take whatever steps you need to arrive early. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready, find parking, or navigate public transportation. Don’t schedule anything before or immediately after the hearing. Make it your top priority for that day.

Take Responsibility

The judge has seen it all before, and they’ve heard every excuse in the book.

Whatever the case, remain honest and take responsibility for your actions. A judge will appreciate the integrity of your honesty, and they will be annoyed at any attempts to deflect responsibility.

When you are truly innocent, explain yourself calmly and rationally, and stick to the facts. The judge may cut you off, or they might not believe anything you say. Either way, speak when spoken to, stay focused on the facts, and do your best.

Remember that you have a right to legal representation. Your attorney can step in whenever a judge or accuser steamrolls you or cuts you off.

Law Offices of Kenneth A. Stover is ready and willing to help you seamlessly survive this challenging time. Contact us by calling (775) 502-1575 or filling out our online contact form today.

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