Court proceedings are serious matters and should be treated as such. As a defendant, your actions and attitude will be noted by everyone in the courtroom. Your etiquette could even determine whether you win or lose your case.
Arrive for your court appearance properly groomed. Hair should be combed and cut if necessary. No causal clothing such as flip-flops, jeans, or t-shirts should be worn to court. If you own a suit or are able to purchase one, wear a suit. Otherwise wear business appropriate clothes, such as slacks, tucked-in collared shirts, and belts. Tattoos should be covered and jewelry should be at an absolute minimum.
Arrive at the courthouse at least 30 minutes early. If driving yourself, be sure to park legally. If someone else is driving you, be sure they are an appropriate acquaintance to arrive with. Arriving early will give you an opportunity to find the correct courtroom and go over last minute questions with your attorney. If the courtroom door locked, sit quietly on a bench just outside the courtroom. If your attorney does not arrive by the time your case is called, take your seat in the courtroom and wait quietly for their arrival. Often they are moving between multiple courtrooms throughout their day. Your judge will notice if you sat patiently or if you arrived late. As a matter of fact, some judges consider arriving late more than just rude and will take you into custody. By arriving early, you are showing everyone that you take your case seriously.
When the judge calls your case, everyone will stop their conversations and go to their positions in the courtroom. Do not put your hands in your pockets, and don’t have anything in your hands, other than possibly some paperwork. Do not carry anything else with you, such as backpacks or purses. Stand up straight to the side of your attorney. If you are in a jury trial, stand when the jury enters or leaves the courtroom.
Listen as each side presents their case. Do not interrupt others while they are talking. Feel free to whisper to your lawyer, but do not do so while anyone else is speaking. Speak only if your attorney instructs you to, otherwise allow them to speak for you. Always address the judge as “Your Honor.”
Do not shake your head or make facial expressions when the prosecutor, witnesses, or the judge is speaking. Always show respect for the court. Speak confidently and look the judge in the eye. Don’t be afraid to ask permission to consult with your attorney if you need to. Sit up straight, with your elbows off the table, and pay attention. Do not chew gum in the courtroom and be sure that your cellphone and any electronic devices are turned off.
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Your attorney will probably go through what to expect and how you should respond in the courtroom. Remember that your demeanor and actions are being considered, so maintain a calm and respectful attitude at all times.