Skip to Content
Free Criminal Consultation! 805-467-6060

What to Expect in Criminal Court


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, he/she can provide valuable help to prepare for your court proceedings.

Before your case starts, determine the courtroom number for your case by contacting your county's Clerk of Court’s office. Bring all of the required documents. You may also bring witnesses who will testify on your behalf. 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?

Show up early to court and give yourself plenty of time to perhaps speak with your attorney before your hearing. When you enter the courtroom, sit close to the front and do not speak.

It is possible your name will be called a second time once the court begins. If you do not hear your name called, remain in the courtroom and wait until recess to inform the person calling names that you are here. Keep in mind, that won't mean your case will be heard.

If you have been arrested for a crime in Southern California, request a free criminal consultation with our Santa Barbara criminal defense lawyers at Appel & Morse today.

Share To: