Top Six Things To Do On Your First Court Appearance Without A Lawyer
- Dress Appropriately.
If you don’t respect the court things will not go well. So dress to impress, for men that means slacks and a button up at minimum. For Women that means a dress, skirt, or slacks and a nice blouse.
- Get To The Court Early.
Judges hate tardiness. It will also give you time to make sure you are in the correct courtroom.
- Talk To The Court Clerk
Talk to the Court clerk and make sure you are in the correct courtroom. Be nice, the court clerk is in communication with the judge and you don’t want the clerk to tell the judge you were rude. Don’t ask the court clerk about your particular crime or case. They do not know you and they do not care. They are not lawyers and will sometimes give you incorrect advice.
- Sit Down And Watch.
If you are there early don’t be first in line. Watch a few people and get a feel for what the judge is going to ask you. Most of the time your first appearance (on misdemeanor charges) is an arraignment. At arraignment the judge will make sure you understand the charges against you and ask you how you plea. Always plead not guilty.
- Ask For A Lawyer.
Now is your time to protect yourself. If you are charged with a crime and cannot afford a lawyer the court will generally appoint a lawyer for you. If you can afford your own lawyer then hire one. You wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself you’d hire a doctor. So don’t go into court by yourself, hire a lawyer.
- Ask For More Time.
A judge will almost universally give you more time if you ask for it. Ask for more time and go talk to a lawyer. Most criminal defense lawyers will give you a free consultation. Be polite and never interrupt the judge.
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