For many people, having to go to court for jury duty is an unpleasant experience. However, for a criminal defendant, it is even worse due to the potential consequences of a possible conviction. Because courtrooms can be both intimidating and nerve racking due to their power and seriousness, many people are confused and unprepared for their day in court. As such, you should be informed on how to behave in a courtroom in order to be prepared for your court appearance.
Behavior and Manners
Courtrooms are generally kept very formal and structured by the judges and their bailiffs. This is done in order to maintain order and respect for the serious matters brought before the court. Because of this, it is important to be on your best behavior and display appropriate manners. Although it can be upsetting to be present in court for a potential criminal conviction, being rude or disrespectful will not help your case and may land you in further trouble if you anger the judge or the bailiffs. As such, make sure to be polite and use words like “please” and “thank you” when addressing any person in the courtroom.
Talking To the Judge
Although lawyers and prosecutors are typically the people who interact with a judge, in certain situations you may be required to address the judge. Because a judge holds a large amount of power, there are special rules and customs that are required when talking to a judge:
Talking To Other People
Generally, it is a smart plan to refrain from talking to anyone else in the courthouse besides your attorney, your immediate family, or someone who has directly addressed you (judge, prosecutor, bailiff, etc.). By doing this, you help avoid any potential problems that may arise like violating court rules or disclosing potentially privileged information that could be overheard by another party and potentially used against you in your case.
How To Dress For Court
Formal dress is not required in the courtroom but it is polite to be neat and professional. If you had to come to court directly from work, it would be worth mentioning that. The judge will understand.
Always try to appear neat and clean. The courtroom is a serious place and your appearance should reflect the importance of the occasion.
Learning appropriate courtroom behavior or etiquette will help you to fit in and feel more comfortable. Everything from how you dress to how you talk can impact your case. It’s important to present yourself in the way that you want the court to view you. Following these simple instructions can go a long way towards receiving a favorable outcome.
James Minick is the founder of Minick Law, and is the ‘Asheville DWI Guy’. He has handled hundreds of DWI cases throughout Western North Carolina. James co-authored A Cup of Coffee with 10 of the Top DUI Attorneys in the United States. The National Trial Lawyers association has named James one of its ‘Top 100 Trial Lawyers for 2014-2015’. James is a General Member of the National College for DUI Defense, and has successfully completed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s course on DUI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, a 24 hour course taught to officers trained in DWI investigations. James and his beautiful wife, Laura, have 5 children and are proud foster parents.