Going to Court: 5 Tips Before Your First Court Appearance

You have been accused of a crime and now you make your first court appearance.This can be an intimidating and overwhelming thing to do. You walk into a court, speak in front of a judge and then await your fate for the time being. It’s hard for the average person to endure.

Criminal lawyers have seen and done it all. This means that they have the best advice to give about your initial court appearance, which should certainly be heeded. Otherwise, you risk hurting your case, throwing money down the drain and even hurting your reputation.Moreover, many Canadians who have never committed a crime before, may not exactly understand how to proceed when visiting the justice system or how to interact with the courts.

Here are five tips from criminal lawyers for your first court appearance:

⚖️ 1. Arrive to the Courthouse Early

There is one thing you need to know ahead of time: the courthouse is extremely busy.

Should you want to speak to your lawyers before the court appearance, find a parking spot, locate the right room and get searched by court officers, you need to make some extra time.

In other words, you must arrive to the courthouse early enough to get everything done.

⚖️ 2. You Don’t Need to Attend – if You Have a Lawyer

Many Canadians don’t know this but you do not need to attend the court. That is, if you have retained the services of an attorney. If you hire a lawyer and designate him or her as your representative, they can appear on your behalf at the courthouse.

By doing this, you save plenty of time and even money, especially if you have young children.

⚖️ 3. Remain Neutral & Quiet During Appearance

When you are appearing in the courtroom, you must appear neutral and remain quiet at all times.

Simply put: you can’t chat, you can’t use your mobile device, you can’t eat or drink and you have to remove your sunglasses, hoods and non-religious headgear.

Just be quiet, don’t drink your Tim Hortons coffee and wait until it is your turn.

⚖️ 4. There Will be Another Court Date

You must be aware of one simple fact: your initial courtroom appearance is not your trial date. Moreover, you must expect that there will be another court date, even after experiencing a long, boring and repetitive visit. And, yes, you will likely go through this all over again!

⚖️ 5. Apply for Legal Aid Immediately

Many Canadians are living paycheque-to-paycheque. Therefore, they do not have a criminal lawyer on retainer and they do not have the money to pay for an attorney. When you can’t afford a private legal representative, you have to apply for legal aid almost immediately.

When you apply for legal aid, you will fill in an application, answer a series of questions and be told if you qualify for court-appointed attorney. If you are not approved then you have to find the best lawyer that suits your pocketbook.

Some criminal lawyers laugh when their clients expect some courtroom drama to unfold as if it were an episode of “Law & Order.” But it isn’t. In fact, the justice system is mundane, meticulous and downright mind-numbing. With that being said, it is a serious matter, and when you are charged with a crime you have to tackle the problem head on.

Criminal attorneys generally have your best interests at heart, understand the intricacies of the justice system and know how to get your charge thrown out. It is important to listen to their advice, heed any suggestions and pay attention to the proceedings.Nobody ever wants to stand in front of a judge, but sometimes these things happen. That’s life!