Being arrested for a criminal offense is a frightening and frustrating
experience. However, this does not mean that you are guilty of committing
the crime with which you are being charged.
The following information will help you understand what is going to occur
in the criminal court process. In addition, this post will discuss how
to behave and what to wear when you appear in the courtroom.
How Should I Prepare for Court?
First, it is imperative to obtain the legal services of an experienced
attorney. If you have a lawyer, talk with him or her in advance. The more
your attorney understands the circumstances surrounding your case, the
more he or she can help you.
Before your case starts, find out which courtroom your case will be heard.
You can do so by contacting the Clerk of Court’s office in your
county. Make sure you call prior to your court date, not the morning of court.
Bring all of the documents you have about your case to court. If you have
any witnesses who can testify on your behalf, you may wish to bring them
with you. If you have children, find a babysitter.
If you enter a plea of “guilty” or “no contest”
to a misdemeanor, you will receive your punishment by the court that day.
If the charge against you is a felony, the process is quite similar, except
that you do not enter a plea and there is an additional step of the preliminary
hearing as an additional safeguard due to the more serious nature of the charges.
What Should I Wear to Court?
First impressions are always important, especially in the courtroom. Dress
appropriately for court, such as what you would wear to a religious service,
wedding, job interview, or a formal social gathering. If you dress inappropriately,
you may be asked to leave the courtroom. Clothing such as jeans, shorts,
t-shirts is simply not appropriate.
What Should I Do When I’m in Court?
Arrive at the courthouse early and find your name on the list of names
outside the courtroom. When you enter the courtroom, sit close to the
front and do not speak.
When court begins, listen for your name to be called. When your name is
called, just say, “Present,” loudly and clearly.
In the event that you are late to court, stay in the courtroom. The Assistance
District Attorney may call names a second time after court starts. If
you are late and your name is not called, then stay in the courtroom until
the next break or recess and let the individual who is calling the names
know that you are present. However, this does not mean that the judge
will hear your case.
Once the judge hears your case and has reached a decision, ensure that
you understand the judge’s decision.
If you have been arrested for a crime in Southern California,
request a free consultation with our
Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyers at
Appel & Morse today.