If you have an upcoming court date, you may not know what to expect in the courtroom. You’ll likely have many questions or worries running through your mind, so it’s understandable that preparing for how to act, dress, or speak in court isn’t high on your priority list.
Similar to how corporate etiquette refers to a set of rules you must follow at work, courtroom etiquette refers to an unspoken set of rules to follow in court. Attorneys take entire courses to learn how to behave in court, so don’t feel too pressured to nail it the first time. Taking the time to prepare yourself will be evident to the judge and the jury, and it can help you secure a favorable outcome.
Top Six Tips to Prepare for Your First Court Appearance
Prepare a Care Package
Having the right items for your court date can save you time and hassle. If you aren’t familiar with the courtroom area, you may waste time looking for an ATM to get cash out for parking or searching for a quick bite to eat. Court hearings can last all day, so you’ll want to prepare for them. Bring:
- Water bottle
- Breath mints, not chewing gum
- Note pad
- Cash for potential photocopies
- Quarters for parking
Practice With Your Attorney
Appearing caught off guard or unprepared during your court hearing won’t help your case, so make an effort to practice with your attorney. If you’ve hired an experienced attorney, they should know the ins and outs of your type of case and can help you avoid any unexpected questions. Remember that lawyers are often busy people, and you may need to insist that they meet with you before your court case to run you through your direct and cross-examination.
Organize Your Documents
To appear calm and composed during your hearing, make sure you organize all your court documents to avoid frantically flipping through papers. Any important paperwork and documentation should be in order before your court date.
Pro tip: Organize your documents in a binder so you can easily and quickly find what you need in court.
First impressions make a difference, and this is especially true in the courtroom. Your dress code will reflect your respect for the judge, so dress as if you are attending church or a business interview. Although you aren’t required to wear a suit, we recommend it. When choosing your outfit, consider wearing neutral tones and covering any tattoos. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that your hairstyle, accessories, shoes, and make-up are professional and conservative.
Arriving to court late reflects poorly on your character and is considered disrespectful to the judge and everyone else in the court case. Give yourself ample time to arrive at least 15 to 20 minutes early. That means you’ll have to allow yourself extra time for:
- Passing through security
- Trouble locating your courtroom
The judge and the jury will take note of how you present yourself and act throughout your trial, so you’ll want to make a good impression. It’s essential to show respect to everyone in the courtroom, including judges, jury members, court reporters, court clerks, bystanders, and even your opponent. Although court cases can be emotional, acting with disrespectful behavior will damage your chances of winning.
Pro tip: Always refer to the judge as ‘your honor’ and refer to anyone in court as ‘Mr.’, ‘Mrs.’, ‘Ms.’, ‘Sir’, or ‘Ma’am.’ Be mindful of listening to others and never interrupt anyone when they’re speaking.
It’s common to be nervous for your first court hearing, but understanding what’s expected of you can help ease the nerves. If you’re currently incarcerated and want to enjoy your freedom while you wait for your upcoming court date, contact A-Affordable Bail Bonds today, and we’ll post your bail.