A traffic court appearance can be scary. Here’s what we recommend to make your court appearance successful for you:
Do I Have to Attend My Court Date?
In many cases appearing in court voluntarily can be a powerful tool to help your case. Our recommendation for court appearances usually occurs with high speed or more complex cases. Your appearance in court helps to demonstrate that you are treating the case with seriousness. This alone can often merit a reduction.
In some cases, making a court appearance may help to secure a better outcome than the judge may otherwise be considering. A voluntary appearance coupled with some mitigation evidence completed prior to the court date can be very influential. It seems in many cases that judges respect someone coming to court when they wouldn’t otherwise be required to. Additionally, judges will frequently reward this behavior.
Sometimes, making a court appearance will have little effect at all. Many judges have prescribed parameters and processes that they use for cases. Unless there is a true exception, judges will reduce every case fitting the parameters to the same extent. For these types of cases, there is little need for the client to appear in court as it has no additional benefit. It’s important to consult with an attorney familiar with your court and judge to understand if appearance would add value to your case outcome.
Understanding Courtroom Etiquette
If you’ve not attended a court hearing before, here are a few things you can do to be prepared for your court date:
- Arrive on time. Timeliness not only helps show your intent, but keeps court processes moving.
- Turn off electronic devices and cell phones before entering the courtroom. Some localities discourage them from even being in the courtroom, so be prepared to leave your phone in a secure location.
- Be polite to the judge, opposing counsel, and court staff. This is their workplace. If you have a question, check with your legal representative before speaking to the court.
- Rise when the judge and jury enter and leave the courtroom. This is part of standard courtroom procedure.
Recommendations for Courtroom Attire
There are many instances where a personal appearance may help to ensure that we obtain the best possible outcome. We’ve seen a variety of fashion choices for clients when it comes to attire. Here are a few items we DO NOT recommend you wear to court:
- T-shirts (especially with imagery, political or innocence statements)
- Sleeveless tops
- Denim (especially discouraged for women)
Instead, we encourage our clients to dress for success. If you have business attire, that is strongly recommended. Business suits, jackets, khakis, collared shirts, and knee length skirts or dresses are great examples of appropriate court attire. Many courts like Chesterfield will even provide a specific list of what is appropriate.
The goal of your attire is to demonstrate to the court that you are well put together and treating this situation with the seriousness it deserves. Keep in mind, judges can be more lenient to those individuals who appear to be treating the case with the seriousness it deserves.