You might feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the prospect of your first appearance in criminal court. After all, there is probably a lot at stake. However, if you are well prepared for this appearance and keep a calm and level head, you can assuredly get through this and through any necessary subsequent appearances as well.
Steps in Preparing for Your Criminal Court Appearance
Here are some things you should keep in mind as you prepare for your first criminal court appearance:
- You are going to be nervous: It is completely natural and expected for you to be nervous about your first criminal court appearance. You are probably going to get tongue-tied or even a little flustered, so just remember to take a deep breath and attempt to compose yourself. A judge will not get angry with you simply for appearing to be nervous or scared.
- Always be polite: This includes everyone, from the judge to the clerk and bailiff, even the court reporter. When speaking to the judge, exercise proper etiquette and address him or her by replying, “yes, your honor,” or “no, your honor.” You should also keep in mind that judges are aware of how you treat their staff, so even if you are not in court, make sure you are polite at all times.
- Speaking in court: Hopefully, you secured experienced legal representation, which means you will not be required to say much in court since he or she will speak on your behalf. Make sure you have had a chance to speak with your attorney and that he or she understands your goals. Anytime you are asked a question directly by the judge, reply accordingly and politely.
- Be punctual: This is one appointment you absolutely do not want to be late for. If you know for certain that you will not be on time, call the judge’s clerk and your attorney to let them know that you are unavoidably delayed. If you fail to inform anyone, it is likely that a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Instead of worrying about informing the clerk or your lawyer that you will be late, it is best to do your best to be early for your court appearance.
- Dress appropriately: It is generally a good rule of thumb for both men and women to avoid wearing shorts, hats, or generally anything that might appear sloppy. You should also refrain from chewing gum or evoking an attitude that exudes apathy.
How to Dress for Criminal Court
Whether it is a job interview or the first time meeting your significant other’s parents, making a good first impression matters. This is especially true when you step foot inside the courtroom.
Judges, jurors, and prosecutors will evaluate your appearance for any signs of your true character and credibility. Failure to dress appropriately when facing criminal charges can have a negative impact on your image and possibly the charges you face.
What Men Must Wear
Men should always wear a suit and tie, preferably in a dark color (i.e. navy blue, dark grey). However, avoid wearing black since it exudes an authoritative and imposing tone. By contrast, light colors (i.e. light gray, blue, green, tan, etc.) are not considered formal enough.
If you don’t have a suit that fits properly, a combination of dress slacks or khakis, an ironed button-down shirt, and dress shoes will suffice. Do not wear any t-shirts, jeans, sneakers, sandals, work boots or flashy jewelry.
What Women Should Wear
Ladies should always wear conservative and modest clothing, such as dresses below the knee, pantsuits, or a combination of a professional blouse and dress skirt. Wear a similar color scheme to men by using darker colors rather than lighter ones.
Do not dress to distract and avoid wearing anything too revealing, too tight, and too short. Makeup and jewelry should be minimal at best.
Other Important Factors
Although tattoos are more popular in today’s society, it is wise to cover them up. You want to appear neatly groomed, so men should schedule a haircut if their hair is particularly long and women should avoid wearing hairnets and rollers. Take a shower and apply deodorant prior to making your court appearance. If you perspire a lot when feeling nervous, carry a handkerchief.
Criminal Defense Attorney in Cleveland
At Patituce & Associates, our Cleveland criminal defense team believes in pursuing justice for our clients and their families. Backed by over 70 years of legal experience, we have earned a reputation for exceptional and diligent advocacy among our clients and peers. If you are facing criminal charges, do not gamble with your future. Choose a law firm you can count on.