Preparing For Your First Court Appearance


Preparation is key to a successful outcome in a legal matter, regardless of whether it’s a thorough review of the evidence, or how you present yourself when in court. The proposition of appearing before a judge and jury may seem like an intimidating one, especially if you’ve never been in trouble with the law before. However, by going out of your way to make sure you put your best foot forward right from the start, you’ll put your best foot forward and give your case an excellent start towards the outcome you’re seeking. Here are a few tips for preparing for your first court appearance.

Don’t Be Late

If your court proceedings are scheduled to begin at 8:00 A.M., then you should be there at the latest by 7:30 A.M. This means planning well in advance for everything. Learn where the courthouse is and plan on how you’ll get there. Plan for traffic and assume it will be bad in order to give yourself enough time cushion to compensate. If you plan on taking public transportation, plan out your route ahead of time, including any bus or train changes, stops, and more.

You should also assume there will be a substantial wait to get through courthouse security. Your attorney or other officials may get to simply bypass this process, but that’s because they’re at the courthouse frequently and have obtained the privilege of doing so. Courthouses are usually particularly crowded in mornings so assume you will face a lengthy wait to go through the metal detector, and make sure you minimize the likelihood of slowing the line by avoiding wearing metal, and removing what metal you do have before going through the detector.

Dress for Success

Believe it or not, how you look affects how you are perceived, and how you are perceived could have a huge influence on your case. Your attorney will have an extremely difficult time making an appeal to your character if you show up looking as though you don’t even take your charges seriously. Courts are places that command respect, and respect begins with dressing appropriately for the occasion.

For gentlemen: If you have a business suit, wear it. Plain gray, dark blue, or black are preferred, but a minimal pattern, such as a subtle pinstripe, is also acceptable. If you don’t have a full suit, slacks and a button-up shirt are also acceptable. Wear dress shoes and dark socks, as well as a conservative neck tie devoid of loud colors. Remove all jewelry except for a wedding ring and a wristwatch, including earrings, nose piercings, facial piercings, and more. Try to cover any easily visible tattoos as much as possible.

For ladies: Business attire is strongly encouraged. Wear a conservative top (nothing too colorful or revealing) and dress pants or a skirt that is at least knee-length. Black, blue, and gray are strongly encouraged, though you may choose to add a slight touch of color, so long as it’s within reason. Wear close-toed shoes, and avoid wearing excessive heels. Keep your hairstyle conservative as well, and stick to just a single piercing in each ear.

Act Respectfully

How you look is part of the battle, but how you act could play an even bigger part in how you are perceived throughout your case. Courtrooms are places that demand respect, and the respect you show will be shown back to you in return. This means be polite to everyone you encounter at the courthouse, including the security officers who guide you through a metal detector, to the clerk who checks you in. Judges care deeply for the staff that allows their day to run smoothly, and they are not afraid to make life difficult for those who do the same to their staff.

You are not allowed to wear a hat in the courtroom, so it’s best not to wear one in the first place. Finally, you’ll want to make sure you remove your coat in the courtroom and never chew gum—both of these practices make it appear as though you wish to get out of there as soon as possible, and while this may be true, it makes you seem disinterested or as though you don’t care about the proceedings in front of you.

You should also never face your criminal accusations without a skilled Memphis criminal defense attorney on your side. Call the Law Office of Stephen R. Leffler, P.C. today at (901) 509-9112 to schedule a case evaluation and put more than 30 years of legal experience on your side!
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