Many clients of ours find themselves unsure of what to expect when it comes to appearing in court: what do I need? How should I act? Where do I even go? While this confusion is very understandable, having a solid idea of what you can expect before walking into the courtroom can be a big relief and may even help your case.
Here’s What You Need to Know about Court
You should always follow your attorney’s instructions, but the following are some general guidelines for preparing for your court appearance:
- Confirm the date, time, and location of your appearance. Los Angeles, and most counties, allow you to look up your case online. You should also check the court’s website to confirm the time, as different departments begin at different times. Be sure to locate nearby parking and check expected traffic times so you arrive on time. Judges can be unforgiving of defendants who arrive late, and may issue a bench warrant if you are not punctual (although they will generally clear the warrant upon your arrival).
- Gather your documents. If you have a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, your attorney will generally bring the documents he or she needs. However, you may need to bring additional documents, such as proof of completion of a program or work service, as well as any other documents your attorney tells you to bring. If you don’t have an attorney, you are responsible for bringing any documents you need. This varies depending on the type of hearing. You may need to provide proof of completion of work service or a program, proof of attendance of classes, or proof of enrollment. In traffic cases, you may need to provide proof of correction. If you filed and served a motion, bring a copy. If you have not yet filed and served the motion, you should bring enough copies of the motion for yourself, the court, the prosecutor or other parties, and a copy for the clerk.
- Dress appropriately. If you own a suit, wear it. If you do not, wear conservative, business-type clothes, such as a collared shirt or blouse and slacks. If you do not own business-type clothes, wear your work clothes or uniform. By dressing appropriately, you are showing the judge that you are taking this matter seriously and respect his or her courtroom. Be aware that many courtrooms have dress codes prohibiting casual clothing, such as sandals and tank tops. Finally, do not wear clothes that promote alcohol, drugs, violence, or illegal activities.
- Be respectful in the courtroom. When you are waiting for the court to call your case, follow all courtroom rules explained by the deputy. Almost all courtrooms prohibit the use of cell phones in the audience and require the removal of hats and sunglasses. It is a misdemeanor to attempt to communicate with anyone in custody, and you will be removed from the courtroom, even if you have a case.
- When the court calls your case. If you have an attorney, your attorney will tell you what to do when your case is called. If your attorney has not arrived when the court calls your case, follow the deputy’s instructions and tell the court you have retained counsel, but your attorney has not yet arrived. The court will most likely have you return to your seat until your attorney arrives. If you are representing yourself, the deputy will direct you to a lectern or counsel table where you will answer the judge’s questions.
As always, consult with your Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer if you have any questions or concerns before your court date. Moaddel Law Firm is here to help you in any way we can. We offer outstanding representation and legal counsel for those accused of a wide range of offenses.
Call us today to begin your defense: (877) 375-8188.