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What to Expect in Court

What do I wear?

Our general advice is to wear your “Sunday Best” – whatever that means to you.

What time do I need to get there?

You need to be there on time. If you’re late, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest. Generally that means you should plan on arriving early to the building early enough to find parking, get through security and find your courtroom. Court buildings can be confusing, so if you have never been to court before, we suggest arriving to the building 30 minutes early.

Your attorney will likely arrive after you. This is completely normal. Unfortunately for everyone, all court settings are usually at the exact same time. And we have more than one client hearing every day. So we can’t get to everyone at the exact same time. We may also have court in multiple different counties on the same day, in which case we may be running quite late. Don’t worry about it. Please be patient. We promise we won’t forget about you. If you have concerns, please feel free to email or text us.

What will happen?

For most court settings, the attorney will speak with the State prosecutor privately, and sometimes both the State prosecutor and your attorney will speak to the judge. Sometimes these conversations with the judge are “on the record” and sometimes they’re “off the record.” Either party (the state or the defense) can request this audience to be on the record. But most often we’re just discussing administrative issues, and there’s nothing really in dispute, so it’s just an informal conversation.

Most often, our clients do not speak to anyone and just wait for us to be finished. Some courts will require you to “Announce” that you are present when your name is called (like they did in school). And other courts will simply require you to wait in a line to tell the bailiff that you’re there.

Do not leave court without speaking to your attorney, however. Your attorney will dismiss you. If you leave early, we might not be done handling your case, and you could be liable to have your bond held insufficient and a warrant issued for your arrest.

For some kinds of court hearings, such as occupational driver’s license hearings, we may need to ask you some questions “on the record.” This is what’s called a “prove up.” Basically what that means is that the court needs certain facts about your case to be recorded before granting you your requested relief (such as your occupational license). It’s no big deal – we will just ask you the same questions that we’ve already asked you, and all you have to do is respond truthfully. Basically we just read you the petition that you have already reviewed and ask you if all the information is correct.

Why do I need to be there?

The court requires you to be at most court settings. The judges get to control whether or not your attendance is required. Don’t shoot the messenger. They’re not our rules. We just tell you about them so that you don’t get in trouble.

What happens at an occupational driver’s license hearing?

At an occupational driver’s license hearing, we will just be asking you to confirm that the information you gave to us is correct. We’ll have your petition for an occupational driver’s license and just ask you whether all of the information on it is correct.

Published by Criminal Defense Attorney on and last modified