The time leading up to your first court appearance may be full of anxiety and nervousness. For many people, the thought of going to court is intimidating. Most of us have never set foot in a courtroom besides reporting for jury duty. You probably have a general sense of what a courtroom is like: lots of rules and formalities, but you have never actually sat before a judge.
Learning what to expect during your first court experience will help you stay calm throughout the process.
Whenever you are venturing into new experiences, it is helpful to do some research. We do this when we go on vacation or buy a car, and you probably did this when you shopped around for the right attorney for your case. Educate yourself on courtroom etiquette and jargon. Research your specific situation and determine what to expect during your first court appearance.
Trust your lawyer, but don’t be blind to the proceedings. If you have time, learn the statutes and relevant rulings according to your case. Preparing in this way will help you to relax when your day in court comes. After all, knowledge is power. Jot down any questions and talk to your attorney about any specific points that are causing you to feel apprehensive.
You want to be as prepared as possible for your first court appearance. Preparing will help reduce some anxieties about the day because you will have done your part. Make sure you have all of your documents and paperwork in order. Review the facts of your case. Speak to your attorney well ahead of time and make sure they have everything they need from you for your first appearance. If you come across anything during your research that you have questions about, make sure to address those with your attorney as well.
Planning your outfit is a must. Dress as if you are going to a formal business meeting, networking event, or job interview. Conservative clothing that is neutral in color and pattern works best. You don’t want to stand out in court. A pair of slacks, a blouse, some comfortable flats, and a red blazer would work well. You don’t want to go so far as to feel uncomfortable in court, but try to maintain a tailored look.
You are striving for a professional, yet conservative look so you need to consider how you will style your hair, apply your make up, and what accessories you will bring with you. You are aiming for a tame, kept look. If you usually wear a hat, skip it on court day. Skip distracting jewelry, especially an armload of bracelets that tend to clink and rattle off each other. If you usually secure your wallet with a heavy silver chain, think about stashing it in your coat pocket for the day instead, especially since you’ll have to pass through a metal detector anyway. You will likely speak very little during your first court appearance, but your appearance speaks for you while you are silent.
You’ve probably watched Judge Judy or at least have a general idea of the show. The best thing to be in court is quiet. While appearing in court, it’s imperative that you remain calm and collected. You may be feeling nervous, but try to stay levelheaded. You should act respectful and genuine, and this includes never interrupting a judge or your attorney. Even if you are unhappy about the outcome of your first court appearance, you can address that after you leave the courtroom.
Appearing in court is no small matter. Planning your entire day around your first court appearance is smart. You do not want to have any commitments that could potentially conflict with your court date. Do not schedule anything right before or after your appearance; you may not know how long the overall process is going to take. You also cannot anticipate how you will feel emotionally after your court appearance, so it’s a good idea to take the entire day off from work if possible.
Plan to arrive at the courthouse early; you don’t want to be late. If you are uncertain about parking or getting there, schedule extra time for yourself. If possible, it’s always a good idea to visit the courthouse before your actual appearance; that way you can figure out where to park, which door to enter through, and any little ins and outs of the courthouse itself. You will also collect some good ideas of proper dress and attire for a court appearance. Planning your driving route, anticipating traffic and parking, and knowing where to enter the courthouse will help eliminate several unknown variables before your court date even arrives.
Once your first court appearance is over, you will better know what to expect, but until that time, the discomfort of the unknown can be stressful. We’ll go over what to expect about your specific case, of course, before you appear.
Oliver and Sherrie M. – Car Accident
“We were hit head-on by someone who run a red light. I got bruised up real bad inside and I had just had shoulder surgery and it inflamed that. My wife was hurt the worst. It disfigured her right arm. We were referred to Mr. West through our son-in-law so we went up and set an appointment with him. We went in and met him for the first time and he is a very nice gentleman to say the least. He took over the case and found out who the [driver] was. It had totaled the car and I had just gotten it paid off. They didn’t even get hurt. Mr. West took the case and went way out of his way to help. The lady who hit us … they had only the cheapest insurance to get the car on the road … so he helped us get more money to help us pay the bills. We are very happy with how it turned out. Kelly and West, they’re good people. You can talk to them and they’re down home people.”