10 Things You Should Do to Prepare For Going to Court

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. 


What Is a Summons and How Is It Different Than a Subpoena?

Are you wondering what is a summons is? Trying to figure out how it differs from a subpoena?

Well, you’re in the right place. Considering that both documents are quite similar, it’s best to get in-depth and approach the question with tangible information. 

In this article, we will cover exactly what a summons is, and what a subpoena is. 

Keep reading to also find out what happens if you ignore either.

What Is A Summons?

The official notice for a lawsuit is called a summons. It is delivered to a person who is being sued. The reason is quite simple, if you have a lawsuit filed against you – you have the right to know about it. 

It is required by the laws of the state to provide a summons to a defendant, in order for the case to be filed properly.

Anytime a party files a lawsuit against another party, they must give them a summons. The formal process of giving the summons to come to court is called the service of process. Each defendant has to get a separate summons. And you as the suing party cannot serve notice. 

Here are three ways a summons can be served:

  1. Via sheriff
  2. Via private process services
  3. Via certified mail (in some cases)

Service via sheriff is an easier way to serve a summons. You simply pay a fee to the sheriff’s office, unless you have a court order to waive the fee.

You will need the original and two copies with the lawsuit complaint attached to all documents. The sheriff will serve the summons to the person listed on the document. They can also give it to a party within the residence over the age of 13.

Usually, a sheriff will try to serve a summons once. If the defendant is not there, you will have to use a private process. You have to ask the course to use a private process server. For this, you file a motion for appointed with a special server.  

This person has to be at least 18 years of age and not related to the lawsuit. In most cases, such servers are private investigators. The person can serve the defendant after the judge has given their approval. After the summons has been served, the private process server will complete an affidavit and notarize it. The court has to have a record of the summons being given.

Last, you can deliver summons via certified mail. This is usually done in small claims cases. It is not required to have other people to serve a defendant. You can have all documents delivered via mail.

However, in all cases, a summons can be improperly served. If this did happen, it is recommended to go to court on the date of the summons and inform the judge of the summons being served in an inappropriate manner. The judge should not proceed with the case until you have been properly served. The judge will not dismiss the case, but he will enforce the plaintiff to serve you again.

What Is A Subpoena?

A court order that may require a party to go to court, deposition, or evidence proposition is called a subpoena. The subpoena also has to be served on the person.

Subpoenas are necessary because a witness to a crime might not want to testify in court. Then you can issue a subpoena for a witness, and require them to come to court under the law. A subpoena can be used during discovery. The process in which both sides to the case discover information and evidence in preparation for the case. 

It is during this period of time that you can subpoena a person to attend a hearing or deposition. You can also subpoena to acquire evidence from a person who is not being sued.

In general, you can subpoena a person by getting a form from the office clerk. You fill in the blank, such as the case name, contact information for witnesses, and the courtroom for the case. When a witness has been subpoenaed, you have to pay them a witness fee and cover their costs of travel. The clerk of the court should be able to help you determine the amount. 

At this point, unlike a summons – any adult can serve the subpoena and payment to the witness. And it can also be given via certified mail.

What Happens If You Ignore a Subpoena or Summons?

Even though subpoena and summons are different, they should not be ignored. If you do get either, you should speak to a defense attorney. 

As mentioned, a summons is an invitation to come to court. It is not an order, therefore it is not necessary to follow through. But if you do ignore it, you can lose the case in front of the eyes of the court. When people don’t show up, the court decides the case against them. 

The court could also mandate that you pay a fine or cease to do something. You will have to adhere to the final decision, regardless of you going to court or not.

But you cannot ignore a summons citation to discover assets. If you lose a lawsuit and end up owing money and don’t pay it – you can get this citation. If you ignore this, you will face serious penalties.

A subpoena cannot be ignored. You are ordered to court – if you want to ignore the subpoena, the court will hold you in contempt. And they might issue a warrant for your arrest. 

You will face jail time, as well as a large fine. If you get a subpoena and don’t want to go, talk to a defense attorney ASAP, but don’t ignore it.

The Difference To An End

Now that you know what is a summons, and what is a subpoena. You can safely presume their differences, and react to them in an appropriate manner. 

When it comes down to the most important difference, one requires you to come to court, the other does not. With a subpoena – you are required to show up. With a summons – you are invited to show up.

If you want to properly deal with a summons, get in touch with me (Carl Barkemeyer), a criminal defense attorney in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area.