How to Prepare for Your First Appearance in Criminal Court

We are all told when growing up that first impressions are important. This is true in all things, including criminal court appearances. The first time you show up in court and speak to a judge is your first chance to show that you are innocent of the charges and deserve to be respected throughout the coming proceedings. Taking some time to prepare for your initial appearance and knowing what to expect can do wonders for your chances.

Here are five things you should know about your first criminal court case appearance:

  1. It is okay to feel nervous: First of all, you are going to be nervous or intimidating by the courtroom setting as a defendant. There is nothing wrong about feeling that way. Just do what you can to stay calm and think clearly. Drink some water before entering the court and practice steady breathing. It may help to also remember that you are not convicted, just charged with a crime.
  2. Dress for success: The courtroom should be viewed as a professional conference room, so dress nicely and cleanly. If you have a suit or dress suit that fits well and comfortably, then you should considering wearing it to court. At the least, be business casual. Do not wear sandals, shorts, tank tops, t-shirts with logos and designs, and so forth.
  3. Be courteous and punctual: Your kindness and consideration will go a long ways in criminal court. Whenever talking to the judge, end your statements with “your honor” to show you are paying attention and paying respects for the system. Many criminal defendants have trouble letting go of egos in the courtroom, and their impolite tongue puts them under a microscope.
  4. Use your legal representation: If you have a criminal defense attorney – which you should – let them act on your behalf as much as possible. Trust in them to enter your plea for you, answer any inquiries not requiring your direct input, and so forth. In an ideal situation, you will have nothing to do or say beyond introductions.
  5. Pay attention: Depending on the criminal charges in question, the prosecution could be there during your initial court appearance making comments. Listen closely to whatever they have to say, as it could prove to be instrumental in constructing your defense with your attorney later. Your defense lawyer is undoubtedly tuning into the opposition’s statements as well but it never hurts to have an extra set of eyes and ears.

Need representation and guidance for your upcoming criminal court appearance in Texas? Our Dallas criminal defense attorneys at Crain Lewis Brogdon, LLP have more than 25 years of combined trial experience we put to good use from the first day of a case to the final conclusion. Learn more about us and our services by setting up a free initial consultation today.


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