I am regularly asked what to expect at your first court date. Clients are often ready to have their case resolved, but unfortunately, this can take months.
Courts will not let you in if you are not dressed appropriately. This means not shorts, no flip flops, and no hats. I usually tell people to dress like they’re going to church.
Plan on Getting There Early
Traffic, parking, getting through security, and finding the right courtroom all make getting to court longer than you might expect. Plan to get there at least 30 minutes early. The judge will usually come out around 9:00 or 9:30 and call everyone’s name who has a case that’s set for that day. When the judge calls your name, stand up and let the judge know that you’re there. Some judges are more strict than others about getting there on time, but for all of them, showing up late doesn’t look good.
Let Your Attorney do the Talking
After you let the judge know that you’re there, you won’t be talking to anybody about your case other than your attorney. Your attorney will discuss your case with the prosecutor. In most cases, there will still be something that we’re waiting on. We may not have all of the police reports, videos, lab results, or photographs. To properly be able to represent you, it’s important that we have a chance to review all of the evidence in the case.
The prosecutor may make an offer in your case. I usually advise people against taking an offer at the first setting. It may be a good and reasonable offer, but it’s rare that we will have everything that we need and had a chance to review all of that information with you, so that you can make a good decision about whether or not to take an offer at the first setting. In almost all circumstances, you will be able to accept that offer later.
Questions for Your Attorney
You should ask your attorney about your case. Ask to read the police report. If there’s not enough time to discuss your case in depth and review the evidence, make an appointment to meet with your attorney so that you can take time to discuss the case and review evidence.
It’s Your Choice
Remember that this is your case. You have the Constitutional right to have a trial in your case. If your case goes to trial, it would be on a different day. Any offer that you accept must be done voluntarily. If you feel too much pressure, just ask that it be reset so that you have time to consider the offer.
Get Some Help
If you are being charged with a crime and your first court date is coming up, it’s important to have an attorney working on your case. The district attorney’s office is already working to get a conviction on your case, it’s important to have an attorney working to defend you now.