If you are facing criminal charges in the State of Texas, you will need to make an appearance in criminal court. The courts are deluged with cases, and time is, therefore, of the essence. Knowing how to navigate your courtroom appearance will help you maximize the time you are allowed before the court and help you make your best possible impression.
Allow Yourself Plenty of Time
The last thing you want to do is be late for your court appearance – or to not show up at all. Being tardy signals a lack of respect for the court, the judge, and even your attorney that will not go unnoticed. Once your appearance is scheduled, do the prep work to ensure you arrive on time, including:
- Plan your route ahead of time (if you are unsure about timing, parking, traffic, or anything else, do a dry run before your scheduled appearance).
- Plan to arrive about 30 minutes early in order to secure parking, walk to the building, go through security, and take the elevator to your floor.
- Plan on spending some time going over your case with your attorney before you enter the courtroom.
When you are heading to court, your first concern regarding your appearance should be dressing and grooming yourself appropriately. It is best to err on the side of a conservative look that does not draw attention to itself and that signals your respect for the court. As the defendant, you probably will not be given the opportunity to speak at this early juncture, and your only opportunity to make an impression will be with your appearance. Dressing as you would for a business interview is a good approach.
Weigh Your Words Carefully
At your initial court appearance, your attorney will likely do all the talking (on your behalf), and that is fine. If the judge, however, does ask you a direct question, you should be prepared to answer. Your response should be as brief, concise, and to the point as you can possibly make it. This is not your opportunity to defend yourself; simply answer the question directly as it is put to you. Working with your experienced criminal defense attorney ahead of time will help you better prepare to answer those questions that are most likely to come up. When and if the judge asks you a direct question, take a moment to gather your thoughts, and make your brief response as respectfully as possible.