Going to criminal court for a court appearance can be stressful. Especially if it is your first time going to criminal court. Here is a short checklist for putting your best foot forward at your criminal court appearance.
- Get there early. Traffic around Nashville, Tennessee, and the surrounding counties is getting worse every day. Try to get there thirty minutes early.
- Put the clerk of the court's number in your cell phone. If you ignore the first tip, at least you can let the clerk know you are stuck in traffic.
- Have your bondsman's phone number. If something happens, call the bondsman. Your bondsman or bonds lady can tell the court you have checked in with them.
- Dress appropriately. No shorts or any revealing clothes should be worn to court. You don't need to wear a suit or a dress to court. Dress neat and clean. A long sleeve shirt and pants are always a solid choice.
- Be prepared to take a drug screen. Some counties in Middle Tennessee may require you to take a drug screen at court. In Williamson County, it may be required for drug charges or to apply for judicial diversion. It happened to one of my clients today.
- Leave your cell phone in the car. More counties are not allowing you to bring a cell phone into court like Cheatham County.
- Call your lawyer a week or so before court and ask what is the game plan. For example, are we going for a preliminary hearing or are we going to shoot for a plea bargain? Most experienced criminal defense attorneys have a game plan for court. Don't ask what is going to happen because there are too many unknown factors to consider.
- If asked a question by the judge answer the question with respect. Yes, your honor or no your honor. If you treat the court with respect, the court will treat you with respect.
These are just a few ideas for a successful court appearance. Next up: tips for meeting with your probation officer.