If you’ve got a court appearance coming up, you will no doubt have worries about which way the proceedings will go.
Whether you are attending to defend yourself, as a witness, or you’re bringing a lawsuit against someone else, you’ll want a smooth and stress-free day in court. Regardless of your role in the proceedings, there will be a lot resting on the way that you perform and present yourself.
But what can you do to prepare yourself for your first day in court?
Here are ten things that you should do to prepare for going to court.
1. Decide Whether You Need an Attorney
The first thing that you’ll need to do when preparing for your appearance in court is to decide whether you’ll need to hire an attorney to represent you in court.
An attorney will understand the proceedings well. They’ll know how the court works and what they can ask the judge for.
While you may think that you have a strong argument in your favor and that you’ll be confident in court, you might be up against opposition with a tough legal counsel.
If you do decide that you need an attorney, you should hire them early to make sure they have time to prepare your case fully ahead of the court date.
2. Gather Up Evidence and Witnesses
Once you know that you’ll have to go to court, think about what evidence you’ll need for your case. This may come in the form of letters, photos, videos, audio recordings, emails, witnesses, and more.
All of these people and things will need to be present in the courtroom. The clerk of the court will need to issue a subpoena, so you’ll need to allow time for this.
3. Plan for the Worst
You shouldn’t assume that your day in court will go your way. What will happen if things don’t go the way that you believe they should? For instance, could you be facing a fine if things don’t go well for you? Do you have the means of paying this fine if you’re ordered to do so?
Make sure that you make plans for if things don’t go well for you.
4. Keep the Court and Your Attorney Updated
If anything changes in your personal circumstances such as moving house or changing your phone number, be sure and let the court and your attorney know.
It’s important that they be able to contact you on the run-up to a court appearance just in case the date changes or the case is moved to another court.
5. Assume You’ll Be in Court All Day
While some court cases are over and done with quickly, others can take longer. Make plans to spend the entire day in court.
This means making sure that you’re off work for the entire day and that you have no other prior appointments.
Courts can have lengthy dockets, and they try and get through them as quickly as possible. This is not always possible, though. If you start complaining that you need to be somewhere else, the judge will not view this favorably.
6. Make Sure That You’re Prepared
Ahead of your first day in court, you will need to ensure that you’re as prepared as possible for your court appearance. Spend some time making sure that you have everything in order and that you’re not missing anything at all.
Check all of your documentation and paperwork ahead of the first day. If you’re being represented by a lawyer, speak with them prior to your day in court.
If there is anything that you need from your attorney, don’t hesitate to ask them.
7. Dress Appropriately
Whatever the reason you’re in court, you’ll want to give a good impression. You can do this by ensuring that you dress appropriately for the court.
Think about wearing something smart such as a suit or a modest dress. Avoid wearing casual clothes as it will look as though you’re not taking the matter seriously.
8. Get to Court Early
On route to the court, things could go wrong. You may face traffic jams or delays on public transport. Allow plenty of time to get to the court.
Many courts are quite big and have multiple hearing rooms. Allow time to find the right room. They will also have a security check that you’ll need to pass when you arrive. This could delay you from arriving in court.
Don’t be late for court; this will reflect on you. A judge may view this as a lack of respect for the court, and they may even charge you with contempt of court.
9. Listen to What the Judge and the Court Staff Tell You
The judge and the staff in the court will have clear instructions for you. Make sure you listen to these instructions and that you follow them. Often, there will be important information about your own rights.
It may feel overwhelming at times, but it is essential that you remain focused and try your best to follow the proceedings and understand everything that is going on.
10. Read Everything You’re Asked to Sign
There may be times when you’re asked to sign important court documents. When you sign these, you’re essentially saying that you’ve read the documents.
Make sure that you read everything. Don’t worry if it seems as though you’re holding everything up by doing so, making sure you understand your rights and what is going on is essential.
Going to Court is a Significant Event
Going to court is a major event, and it is one that should not be taken lightly. By being prepared for your appearance and by presenting yourself in the best possible light, you’ll appear as honest as possible.
If you’re looking for a criminal defense lawyer in New Orleans, get in touch with the Barkemeyer law firm today.