Frequently asked questions in court

As a criminal defense attorney I often get asked similar criminal  and traffic related questions. The following is a work in progress and hopefully it will answer many of your frequently asked questions in court.

When is my next court date likely to be if my case is continued?

As a general rule your court date is determined by the citing and/or arresting officers next available court date. In district criminal court this is often every 4 to 5 weeks.

What should I do if I am responsible for my children and have no one else that can supervise them when I go to court?

The courtroom audience is requested to remain quiet at all times that court is in session. So overall the courtroom is not a place for children. Make every attempt to avoid having to bring your children into court. Even if you are unable to have someone watch your children the entire day it may be possible if you plan ahead with your attorney to accommodate your individual schedule.

How long will I be in court?

Court lasts all day long. We understand that you have work, school, or other personal engagements, however there has to be a first case and a there has to be a last case. Generally the prosecutor calls the calendar and determines the order in which cases are heard. If your matter is for trial then it is likely that it may not be called for hearing until late morning or early afternoon. The Court will often attempt to handle pleas, motions, or other wise short matters first as You should expect spending half a day at a minimum in court awaiting for your case to be called.

How should I dress for court?

Dress appropriately. You do not have to go buy new clothes before court however wear clothing that is clean, neat, and respectable to the Court. You may be surprised at how differently you are treated compared to the person next to you wearing a “it’s 4:20 somewhere” t-shirt.

When should I talk to my attorney?

If you have an attorney, talk with your attorney in advance. The more your attorney understands about your case, the more he/she can help you and waiting until last minute to contact him/her does not help either of you anticipate the happenings of the upcoming court date.

What courtroom is my case?

Find out in which courtroom your case will be heard before court starts. You can do this by calling the Clerk of Court’s office in your county. Your attorney will be able to inform you which court room is likely to be utilized for your case however I would suggest calling the County Clerk’s Office the day before to ensure you are in the correct courtroom. The reason you should call the Clerk’s office instead of your attorney is that the Court could have a scheduling conflict in which courtrooms need to be exchanged for another. If this is done then it is possible that your attorney may not know until the day of which courtroom your matter is being heard.

Can I bring my witnesses and evidence to court with me?

If you have any witnesses who can tell the court what they saw or heard concerning your charges, you may wish to bring them with you. It would be best to have previously discussed with your attorney the name of the witness, relationship of the witness to you and/or State’s witness, and brief summary as to what the witness will testify to. Make sure that they also dress appropriately.

Bring a pencil and paper to court with you. You may need to take notes about your case or write down court dates. It is your responsibility to know when to return to court if your case is continued (or postponed) until another date.

Bring all of the papers you have about your case to court. They do no good at home or out in your car.

Can I get my court date continued in criminal district court?

Generally, if it is a first court date you will be advised by the Judge of your right to counsel. If you are prepared with your attorney then you may be allowed a continuance. However, do not take this for granted because if the State is urging for the matter to be heard and the Judge denies your attorney’s motion to continue then the case will be heard. The Court likely will not grant a continuance just because you haven’t discussed your case with your lawyer, you don’t have the money to pay on the court date, or you do not have your witnesses/evidence on your own behalf. You should be ready to proceed even on your first court date.

The basis for requesting the continuance on your court case is important for the Court’s consideration.

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