Are you feeling nervous about your first time in a courtroom? Do you worry that you could break court rules without realizing you did something wrong?
Your first time in court can be daunting, wether it’s a simple summons to appear in traffic court, or you’ve been subpoenaed.
Each judiciary has its preferences for how participants should behave. Lawyers, clients, juries, court reporters, grand juries and bailiffs have different expectations for their roles and responsibilities. But where do you fit in?
9 Court Rules Everyone Must Follow
A few critical tips can go a long way, and help you feel confident going into any hearing. Continue reading below to learn nine court rules everyone must follow today. Then, if you have more questions, we can help get you even more answers.
Do Not Be Late
Arriving late to a court hearing does more than make you look irresponsible to the judge. They could dismiss your case, or issue a default judgment against you. If you go to the trouble of defending yourself against a lawsuit, you do not want to lose this way. Moreover, you do not want to get into even more trouble while facing criminal charges.
The well-known adage applies here as much, if not more than anywhere else. If you are early, you are on time. You are already late if you arrive on time, and if you are late, that is unacceptable.
Stand for the Judge and Jury
There is an expectation that all court participants stand when the judge or jury enters. Generally, you can expect the bailiff to announce their entrance. You can sit again once the person adjudicating your case gives permission.
Treat Court Property with Respect
The chances are good that your case is one of the dozens to have a hearing on any given day. Consequently, treat everything in a local court with the utmost respect. Put anything you take back where you found it, keep your feet off the furniture, and remember that you are in a public space.
Judges and other officials must maintain the integrity of the court. Accordingly, they expect anyone who enters the courtroom to dress appropriately.
Regardless of the level of the judiciary, most jurisdictions in the United States expect business casual dress at a minimum. A typical rule of thumb for how to dress for court is to wear what you would to a church service or a graduation ceremony.
Turn Off Your Cellphone and Other Devices
At best, having your cell phone make noise during a hearing is an embarrassment you cannot afford. In the worst-case scenario, you can face a contempt of court charge. Regardless of what kind of device you bring into the courtroom, take steps to ensure it does not disrupt proceedings.
Throw Away Your Food, Drinks, or Gum
Assuring you do not cause a distraction includes not showing up with food or drinks. Similarly, chewing gum would be a rude gesture considering the seriousness of the hearings. If you haven’t had lunch, you will have to wait until your participation in a hearing has concluded.
Every word you say in court carries weight and should be clear to everyone involved. Speaking too soft or mumbling through a statement will only cause confusion or frustration. If you are not sure how to proceed, discuss your reply with your attorney before you start talking.
Avoid Rude Behaviors
Everyone who has their day in court deserves a particular level of decorum.
Understandably, it can feel like a tremendous challenge not to interrupt someone you disagree with in court. Despite the high stakes, you should respect whose turn it is to speak. In addition, avoid using sarcasm or profanity when you provide a response to questions or give testimony.
Leave Your Children at Home (Unless Their Attendance is Mandatory)
If you have children, you already know how disruptive their behavior can be in different environments. Therefore, you need to arrange for a babysitter when you have an appointment to be in court. They should only participate when there is an explicit invitation or reason for them to appear in front of a judge.
Have More Questions About Court Rules? Talk to a Local Attorney!
Learning about the 9 court rules everyone must follow will give anyone an excellent start toward obeying courtroom etiquette. However, different types of hearings may require another level of preparation.
If you are not confident you have prepared accordingly, consider a consultation with an attorney. After all, representing yourself could lead to mistakes that are not as obvious as the ones above. Send us a request through our website or call (866) 345-6784 today to get the legal counsel you deserve.