Tips for Defendants Appearing in Court

courthouseIf you are a defendant in a criminal case, by the time you get to Court, you might not think there are many things you can do to help your case. If so, you would be wrong. Appearance and attitude matters. I have been told by many Judges and Prosecuting Attorney’s that the reason they were harder or easier on a particular Defendant, was because of the way that Defendant appeared and acted in Court. Below are some simple tips that may help you out.

Dress Appropriately. If at all possible put on a pair of nice jeans or khaki’s and a pressed button up shirt. It is not necessary to wear a suit in most occasions. If you are charged with a drug offense, don’t come to court wearing a lot of shiny jewelry. If you are charged with any offense involving alcohol, don’t wear a shirt that shows beer or liquor.

Be mindful of your personal hygiene. Make sure you have showered, brushed your teeth, fixed your hair or shaved. Judges and Prosecutors are people too and when they see someone who comes to Court looking like they just rolled out of bed, then they feel like you are not taking your charges seriously and that they may need to get your attention. Much of what happens in Court, happens right in front of the Judge, you want to make the right impression.

Do Not Drink or Use Controlled Substances prior to going to Court. If a Judge thinks you are under the influence of anything improper, then he can and often will order you jailed, until such a time as you are clean and sober. The law says that a person must be able to understand the proceedings and if you are impaired, you cannot do that. If a Court official (excluding your own attorney) smells any alcohol or controlled substance on you, they are obligated to tell the bailiff, who will bring it to the attention to the Court. Also remember, what you drank, smoked, etc. the night before will be on your breath.

Be Respectful to the Court. Courts have a lot of discretion in sentencing and whether to accept negotiated pleas. The last thing you want to have happen is to smart off in front of the Judge before he passes sentence. Judges are people too and they can have bad days. Don’t give them a reason to take part of it out on you.