Your first day in court – this is a crucial time in your case. I know you may feel nervous or even scared, but I want you to know that my team and I are here to help you through this stressful process. Please remember that if you have any questions don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call my office. Here is some of the basic information you need to know before going to court:
- Be on time! Although court may not start on time, it is essential that anyone charged with a criminal offense in Georgia arrive at the courtroom 15 minutes before court is scheduled for their case. Please allow extra time for traffic, parking, clearing security, elevator, and finding a seat in the courtroom. Please be sure that you let me or a team member know that you have arrived at the courtroom.
» What happens if I show up late for my Criminal Case? Some Judges have zero tolerance for defendants who show up late and they can order your case to be called late or even instruct the bailiffs to take you into custody.
- Dressing for Court – The general rule for appearing in court is to dress conservatively. Although some people will appear in court dressed very casually please remember that prosecutors and judges will make snap decisions about you based on what you are wearing and your general appearance. Because you will be appearing before a judge it is in your best interest to appear as an individual that is respectful of the court.
» Suggested guidelines:
Men– Long pants with a belt, shoes with socks, collared shirt that is tucked in, with or without an appropriate jacket
Women – A dress, skirt, or long pants; closed toe shoes, a blouse, sweater, or casual dress shirt
(Make sure your hair is brushed, any visible tattoos are covered, and any piercings are removed)
- Expectations – Remember legal time is slower than normal time. Your case may not be called at its scheduled time. This slow pace can be frustrating when you are under the pressure and stress of criminal charges, but knowing that most cases go slow will give you the right expectations.
- Children in the courtroom – The courtroom is not an appropriate place for children. Many of the topics discussed in open court are not appropriate for children and could potentially be disturbing or confusing to them. You should make arrangements for a friend or relative to watch your children while you are in court.
- Prohibited Items – Do not bring any: food, drink, gum, etc into the courthouse. Most security personnel will seize and toss these items in the trash. No weapons of any kind (including small pocketknives) are permitted inside the courthouse. No knives, no guns, no pepper spray. Knives, guns, or pepper spray will be confiscated and you could be charged with a criminal offense. Additionally, electronic devices, such as cameras, voice recorders, laptops, iPads, and cell phones are not permitted inside a courtroom. Cell phones generally not allowed and if your phone rings inside a courtroom most judges will confiscate it and access you a fine!
- Speaking in court and general courtroom etiquette – Always stand up when a judge enters or leaves a courtroom. Remember you have an attorney to represent you. The attorney will do most of the speaking required of you in court. If you are going to be required to speak your attorney will brief you on what is expected of you and what you need to know. When speaking to a judge remember to speak clearly and address the judge as “Your Honor”. Never interrupt a judge when they are addressing you or another person in court. If you have a question, ask your attorney. Do not under any circumstances approach the judge’s bench unless you have been instructed to do so. When you exit the courtroom, do so in a way that is respectful of the court and others. Do not make too much noise or cause any distraction.