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Preparing for Your First Appearance in Criminal Court

If your first day in criminal court is looming in front of you, it’s not uncommon to feel a sense of dread and anxiety at the prospect of appearing before a judge to face your accusations. While the nerves may not go away until the appearance has passed, there are some steps you can take to prepare and put yourself in a better state of mind heading into your case. On this blog, our Bakersfield criminal defense lawyers discuss these tips in more detail.

It’s Okay to Be Nervous

Nerves in the courtroom are totally okay. In fact, it’s probably a good thing because it shows you know the gravity of the situation you are facing and are taking it seriously. It’s not uncommon for these nerves to manifest themselves in things such as dry, cotton-mouthed feelings or getting tongue-tied when you need to speak out. You may be embarrassed but don’t worry, it’s exceedingly rare for a judge to get angry or impatient with a defendant who is nervous, so long as they don’t use it as a stalling tactic or impede the proceedings in any way.

Be Polite

Being nervous is fine, but only as long as you are polite. If you are polite and respectful, your judge will likely return the respect and civil behavior. If you are rude or snippy with them, you will get no such treatment. When in court, be polite to everyone. Be polite to the clerk or bailiff who checks you in, or the court reporter who asks you to repeat a statement. Always address the judge as “your honor,” without exception. This simple common courtesy can actually gain you quite a bit of traction in your case. Judges are aware of how you treat their staff, and a clerk who favors you could have the power to give you better scheduling and other important favors.

Speaking Out in Court

We’ve already addressed being polite in court, including showing the proper respect, but speaking while in the courtroom is something you should think very carefully before doing. When you are represented by an attorney, you will likely not have to say a whole lot, just listen quietly and pay attention. If your prosecutor tries to attack your character or makes an accusation or statement that is wildly uncalled for, do not speak out of turn, no matter your strongest urges. Your attorney will most likely handle that for you, and could be waiting for the optimal time to state your objection on your behalf.

Dress Appropriately

Your attire in court will speak volumes about your character, so it is important you dress appropriately for the occasion. A suit is not mandatory, but a button-down shirt, tie, nice slacks, and dress shoes are ideal for gentlemen. For ladies, a conservative top, dress pants or a skirt that is at least knee-length, and close-toed shoes are encouraged. Think business-casual or better. You don’t need to rent a tuxedo, but a ripped shirt, daisy-duke shorts or flip-flops will not gain you a lot of respect. Don’t wear anything revealing, and stick to a conservative color palate: black, grey, and dark blue. Do not wear a hat, as you will not be allowed to have it on in the courtroom. Lastly, don’t wear your coat indoors and do not chew gum: both make you seem disinterested and like you want to get out of there as soon as possible (even if that may be true).

You should not attempt to face your charges in court without the assistance of an elite Bakersfield criminal defense attorney from Campbell Whitten. We provide hard-hitting and well-orchestrated representation for clients facing any criminal charge, including theft crimes, sex crimes, violent crimes, DUI, misdemeanors, and many more. We take great pride in providing our clients with counsel they can trust, knowing that we are doing everything in our power to secure a favorable outcome to their case.

To discuss your case with our attorneys, call Campbell Whitten today at 661.735.1038 and schedule your initial consultation today!