What to Expect When You Come to Court

 

Where should I go? Where should I park?
  • Park in the blue areas on this parking map.
  • Parking lot spaces and street parking are very limited, so plan ahead.
When should I arrive?
  • Your notice will tell you what time to be at the courthouse; you will meet with your attorney at that time and court will start after that
  • Plan ahead for as much time as possible
  • You will need time to find a parking spot
  • You will need time to go through security
  • You will go through security more quickly if you avoid bringing metal into the courthouse. Studded belts, boots with steel toes or shanks, etc. will delay your progress through the metal detector
What should I wear to court?
  • Dress appropriately for court. If you dress inappropriately, you may be asked to leave the courtroom.
  • As a general rule, you should think of the courtroom as a formal environment.
  • Don't wear:
    • Shorts
    • Hats (unless for religious purposes)
    • A halter or tube top
    • A see-through top
    • Clothes that expose your midriff or underwear
    • Ripped or torn jeans
    • Baggy pants that fall below your hips
    • Clothes with an emblem or words that promote illegal or inappropriate activity
    • Clothes that show or promote violence, sex acts, illegal drug use, or profanity
    • Pajamas or exercise clothes
Where should I go when I enter the courthouse?
  • Your name will be listed on an electronic media board in the lobby of the courthouse with your name and the courtroom and time for your case. If you don’t see your name, check in at the customer service window.
  • Go to the courtroom and wait for your attorney.
What paperwork will I need to fill out for court?
  • For an arraignment (your first time in court for a case), you should review your advisement of your constitutional rights. Do NOT sign it until you have reviewed it with an attorney.
  • If you are not hiring your own attorney and want to ask the court to appoint an attorney to represent you, you will need to fill out an indigency screening form that assists the judge in determining if you are unable to afford an attorney and qualify for a public defender.
  • The public defender may ask you to fill out a form with your contact information so your assigned attorney can later contact you.
  • You can sign up to get text messages to remind you of future court dates. Fill out this form and bring it to court with you or ask for one at the customer service window.
What will happen at arraignment?
  • Arraignment is the first time you will go to court on your case. It is sometimes called “first appearance”.
  • The judge will first confirm your name and date of birth.
  • The judge will ask if you understand your Constitutional rights.
  • If you say you cannot afford to hire an attorney, the judge will decide if you qualify to have a public defender appointed to represent you at either no cost or low cost.
  • At arraignment, you have the right to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Most people enter a plea of not guilty so they can review police reports, look at other pieces of evidence, and speak to an attorney.
What conduct is expected in the courtroom?
  • Because certain behaviors are noisy, distracting, or disrespectful in the courtroom, please:
    • Leave food, gum and liquids outside the courtroom
    • Pay attention (no playing on your phone, reading a newspaper, etc.)
    • Stay awake; no napping
    • Remove your hat
    • Remove your earphones
    • Turn off your phone or pager
    • Do not take pictures or videos, unless you have prior permission from the judge
    • During the hearing, you should speak directly to the judge and not the other side. Avoid arguing with or interrupting another person, and control your emotions. When you talk to the judge, start by saying "Your Honor." Speak loudly and clearly and remember that only one person can speak at a time. A recorder is taking down everything said in the courtroom, and can record only one speaker at a time.
How long will court last?
  • Expect to be in court for half the day.
  • Understand this is not the time to discuss all the facts of your case. You will need to schedule a meeting with your attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
What is a pretrial hearing?
  • If you’ve entered a plea of not guilty, the case is set for a pretrial hearing. This is usually four (4) weeks from your arraignment and gives you time to speak with your attorney. At the pretrial hearing, you will let the court know whether you need a continuance, resolve your case, or set your case for trial. If your case is resolved at a pretrial hearing, you will likely be sentenced on that day as well.