Whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, there’s one thing you need to know: how to behave in court. Attending court is a serious matter. Behavior and appearance are of utmost importance. If you do anything that can cause the judge to view you in a negative manner, this may impact your case. You could be cited for contempt of court and face harsher punishments, which is the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish if you have been accused of a crime.
If this is your first time attending a courtroom, you will likely be a bit anxious. What do you do? What do you say? What do you wear? Follow this guide for professionalism in a Texas courtroom.
Be On Time
Being on time is probably one of the most important things you can do to make a good impression. You are not the only case the judge will be ruling on. Court cases go on all day long, so the schedule is tight. Being even a few minutes late is viewed as unprofessional and can negatively impact your case.
Set your alarm clock the night before. Make sure you give yourself adequate time to get ready, as you don’t want to be rushing out the door. Find out how long it takes to get to the courthouse and allow yourself plenty of time to park. Strive to be at the courtroom at least 10 minutes early. It’s better to be early and have to wait a few minutes than to be late and see your case dismissed.
When you dress professionally, you show the court that you take your case seriously. Therefore, leave the tank tops and shorts at home when entering a courtroom. You should wear business attire to court. Basically, you should dress like you’re attending a job interview. This means collared shirts (tucked in), ties and slacks for men. Dress pants and dresses are appropriate for women, as long as they are not too short. If you have doubts, it’s better to overdress than to dress too casually.
Avoid Bringing Certain Items
Certain items cannot be brought into the courtroom, so you will need to leave them in your car or at home. These items include food, beverages, chewing gum and tobacco products. Newspapers, cell phones and recording devices are also not allowed. While children are allowed in some courtrooms, it’s best to leave them with someone. The courtroom is not the most exciting or appropriate place to bring a young child, and they will have to leave if they become disruptive.
Be Polite and Courteous
Be polite to not just the judge and court staff, but to everyone you come in contact with, including the judge—even the opposing side. Remember that you are in a courtroom and you must therefore have respect. This includes addressing the judge as “Your Honor.” When responding to questions, add “sir” or “ma’am” at the end, such as “yes, sir” or “no, ma’am.” In addition, you should rise when the judge and jury enter or leave the courtroom.
The judge should be the only person you are addressing. You should not address the other party at all.
Do Not Speak Out of Turn
Judges do not like interruptions. You should not talk to the judge unless you are permitted to do so. This is because recording devices are used by the court, so only one person is allowed to speak at a given time.
Do not speak out of turn or argue with the judge or any other court staff. If you are asked questions, keep your answers brief. Use formal English and avoid slang. Remember, you are in a professional environment.
Get Help From a Collin County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you ever have questions or concerns about the court process, don’t hesitate to ask your criminal defense attorney. Attorneys have been inside a courtroom numerous times and know the rules of proper etiquette.