While a trial lawyer has spent many days in court, it is likely you will not have spent nearly as much time in the courtroom. Whether it is your first time in a courtroom or it is simply your first time in court as a defendant or a witness, here are a few of the key tips to keep in mind for how to act in court.
Courtroom Dress and Decorum
When you are going to court, especially on the day of a trial, dress professionally and maintain an honorable sense of decorum. Formal dress is not necessarily required, but you should always dress neatly and professionally.
You should also show respect to the court by doing the following:
- Turning Off Your Phone
- Being Respectful of Other Parties in the Case
- Speaking Clearly and Respectfully When Asked Questions
- Exercise Self-Control At All Times
- Pay Attention to the Court Proceedings
In addition, ensure you respect the court’s time by arriving on time or early. A criminal defendant is expected to make the arrangements needed to arrive at the courthouse and at the appropriate courtroom earlier than the scheduled time. Strive to be at your designated courtroom 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appearance.
Not only will this help put your mind at ease and help you gain familiarity with your surroundings, it also provides valuable time for you to cover any last minute questions or concerns with your Arizona criminal defense lawyer.
Finally, when your case is called, stand up and come forward. The only thing that should be in your hands, if anything at all, is papers the judge must expect. If you need those papers, your attorney will make sure you have them. As you come forward, stand beside your attorney and speak only if your attorney instructs you to do so. Never interrupt the judge.
Handling Trial Proceedings and Questioning
When you are asked questions and must answer respectfully, be sure to tell the truth in the way you were prepared by your lawyer. Avoid exaggerating and simply stick to telling the facts of the case as you understand them in a clear and concise way. In other words, respond the way you were prepared by your attorney.
It can be easy to fall prey to the pressure of being in court, but know your attorney has adequately prepared you to answer and respond as needed. As such, keep things brief. Don’t be tempted to elaborate beyond your prepared remarks.
Always remain polite and professional. A trial room can be an intimidating setting, but know that your attorney is the ally you need to rely on during in this trying time. This rule of maintaining a polite demeanor also extends to courtroom staff. Rest assured that court clerks and bailiffs will report poor behavior to the judge, which naturally will not do you any favors in your case.
There is one exception to this general rule of communicating in a friendly and respectful manner. If a prosecutor talks indirectly or directly to the defendant, this can be construed as a breach of attorney ethics if you are represented by an attorney. Defendants are advised to ignore such communication. If you do not have an attorney, you may choose to speak to the prosecutor. Do not behave disrespectfully, but it is advisable that you decline the invitation to speak if you are represented.
Of course, if the court instructs you to answer a prosecutor’s line of questioning, it is then your duty to respond respectfully by answering the questions asked. However, your attorney will instruct you as to what is happening in such a situation.
At Tyler Allen Law Firm, we’ll work with you ahead of time so you know how to act in court. If you want the best possible representation, contact us today! We will work tirelessly to provide you with a personal defense that gets results.