After being released from jail on bail bond, you are given the privilege of time, time that should be used to prepare for your initial court hearing. After all, it is the judge whom you need to impress at your pretrial hearing, not a full panel of jurors.
Continue reading to learn how you can make a good impression on the judge at your first court hearing in order to give yourself the best chance at a successful trial down the road.
Tips for Attending Your Preliminary Hearing
Your initial court hearing is also called an arraignment or preliminary hearing. It is typically scheduled within twenty days after your arrest. At this hearing, you will be ordered to enter a preliminary plea. This is how long you have to get prepared and put your best foot forward toward resolving your legal matters. Basically, if you want successful results at trial, preparation is key.
Here’s what you need to know about attending your preliminary hearing:
Be Very Early
Regardless of the instructions given to you by your attorney or public defender, take your own initiative and arrive at the courthouse at least 45 minutes before your arraignment begins. This should give you plenty of time to get there, especially in the unanticipated event of a traffic obstruction or automotive breakdown, plus give you time to find a place to park, walk into the building, go to security, use the restroom, get yourself together, find your assigned courtroom, and meet with your lawyer for a pre-hearing discussion.
In order to make a good first impression on the judge, your duty is to look nice. You don’t want to wear your nicest clothes; it would be deemed mocking or even arrogant to show up in a tuxedo or elaborate three-piece suit. Instead, aim to dress clean and professionally, as if you were going in for a job interview or to church. Be sure you are well groomed, well rested, and composed. These small details will impact how a judge views you as an individual, and ultimately your case.
Turn Your Devices Off
One of the worst things you could do is leave your cell phone or tablet on during the hearing. It would be incredibly disrespectful to the judge. If you were to get an audible phone call, email, reminder, notification, or text message on your device during your hearing. So, as soon as you get to the courtroom, turn off all devices before stepping inside. If at all possible, leave them in your car.
Be Respectful of Courtroom Procedures
There are several types of courtroom procedures that your lawyer should cover with you before you appear for your initial hearing. For instance, when the judge or jury walks into the courtroom or stands to leave, it is customary to stand up.
Also, when the judge addresses you in the courtroom, it is your duty to stand. Always address the judge as Your Honor, and only speak when spoken to. Address every other person in the room by their surname, such as Mr. Jones or Mrs. Smith.
When inside the courtroom, whether it is time for your hearing or not, do not talk on your phone or to others, do not bring in food or eat, and do not take videos or photographs. During your hearing, it is important that you never attempt to approach the judge’s bench. Leave all of this to your lawyer or public defender.
Most importantly, don’t lie the judge. They been doing this a long time and can usually tell when a defendant is being dishonest. Dishonesty or omitting facts related to the truth can impact the way the judge organizes your sentencing.
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