Your first courtroom appearance can be a nerve-wracking experience. Knowing how to conduct yourself in a courtroom setting is important, especially because making a positive first impression in court can go a long way and have a positive impact on your case.
If you’re preparing for your first visit to a North Carolina or South Carolina courtroom, these five tips can help you follow proper courtroom etiquette.
It’s important to be on time for your court appearance, but the best practice is to plan to arrive early. Leaving for the courthouse early will allow you to remain level-headed and give you extra time in case you should encounter traffic or anything else that could delay your commute. Arriving at the courthouse early will give you time to get through security and find your courtroom with enough time to be punctual, which will reflect well on you.
Arriving early will also give you time to calm your nerves and get into the proper mindset for your court appearance.
Before you arrive at court, make sure you have any necessary documents for your case, if necessary. Your attorney should inform you what, if anything, you need to bring with you. Make sure you are familiar with anything you are asked to bring along so if you are questioned about it, you can answer easily.
A common question clients have before a court appearance is how they should dress. You want to appear professional to make a good impression, so it’s important to dress appropriately. While there’s no official dress code in court, a good rule of thumb to follow is to try to stick to business casual attire. No shorts, leggings, tank tops, hats, or clothing that is very revealing. Avoid clothing with graphics and inappropriate prints, as well.
Some judges have preferred dress codes that they like people in their courts to follow, so it’s always best to check ahead of time if you’re unsure.
It’s vital that you act appropriately towards the judge, opposing attorneys, and other personnel in the court during your time in the courtroom. Answer questions respectfully and don’t interrupt others while they’re speaking; avoid angry outbursts, in particular, as those will reflect poorly on you. It is especially important to be respectful towards the judge presiding over your case; address them as “Your Honor” and stand when they enter or leave the courtroom.
Remember to keep your body language respectful, too. Maintain a good posture and pay attention to what is happening in the courtroom. Don’t roll your eyes or make faces in response to someone else’s words, and maintain eye contact when speaking to the judge or an opposing attorney.
Be conscientious of minding your manners before you even enter the courtroom; you never know who could be watching you and making assumptions about you based on your behavior.
Some courtrooms prohibit cell phones completely. Ask your attorney if the courtroom you are going to has this rule. If not, turning it off while you are in the courtroom is a basic rule of courtroom etiquette. You will often be reminded to turn off your phone when entering the courthouse, but even if you aren’t, it’s important to shut it off and put it away before you enter the courtroom. Even if you have to wait before your trial, you should not be on your phone once you step foot in the courtroom.
If your phone rings in the courtroom, you can be held in contempt and even fined. This can have a negative impact on your case.
SeiferFlatow can prepare you for a court appearance
Whether you’re appearing in traffic court or in a criminal case, knowing how to act in court is vital. A good attorney will properly prepare you ahead of time for a court appearance. The attorneys at SeiferFlatow take their time with our clients to assure they are properly prepared to present their best selves in court. If you know you need to appear in court, contact either of our offices to speak with an attorney who can help provide you with the tools you need to achieve the best outcome during your court appearance.