Appearing in court can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. There’s a general air of nervousness and stress. Other than that, you’re also not sure about how it will end and whether the verdict will be in your favor. Even if you’ve planned it out well and have organized all the evidence, the decision lies with the court and can swing either way.
In this post, we will guide you about the ins and outs of your first court hearing:
How to prepare?
Documentation is one of the key aspects of your court proceedings. Your pieces of evidence and relevant documents should be well organized and up-to-date. Make sure that your lawyer has documented proofs of every bit of information that they might need to fight your case. These may include medical reports, photographs, police documents, and property papers if they’re relevant.
Try to be on time and dress neatly. This puts up a good impression on the jury. Make sure that you and the lawyer have discussed the case in detail and are on the same page. Rehearse your answers well so you can deliver them confidently at the time of questioning.
What to expect?
Don’t approach the judge or any other court personnel until your name is called out.
When you reach the court, meet your lawyer and take a seat. After your name is announced, go to the designated place where you’re supposed to stand. You’ll be most likely facing the judge when you stand.
The judge will start by asking you to confirm your name. The judge will then ask you if you know what you’re charged with, after which they’ll read out the charges formally.
The judge will then ask you how you wish to plead. If you’re already in touch with a lawyer, you don’t need any further advice. In other cases, you can request the court to ‘hold down’ the case so you can get in touch with a lawyer and seek legal advice.
The judge will also ask questions, to which you should only respond when you’re instructed to do so. Be calm and confident and address the judge respectfully.
When you’re asked to enter a plea, there are three courses of action that you can take:
- Not guilty: If you deny the charges held against you and wish to enter a trial.
- Guilty: If you agree that all charges are true and will now be sentenced.
- No contest: If you don’t want to plead guilty at all but have nothing to defend yourself with. In this case, the court will find you guilty.
If there’s one thing you can’t afford to do, it’s missing your court hearings. If a bail bond agent paid for your bail fee, you don’t need to worry about missing the hearings. They’ll keep track of your hearings and will inform you when they’re due.