“Shut your mouth,” Judge Judy hollers as her wooden gavel clamors onto a large oak table. The drama flits across the screen as the jury stares on in amusement, you try to take notes on what not to do in the courtroom, but you find yourself lost in the TV action…
HELLO, YOUR COURT DATE IS TOMORROW!
Your parents taught you how to behave in public, work and school taught you how to interact with others, but unfortunately, there’s not much guidance when it comes to courtroom behavior…but don’t sweat—Bryan Coulter has you covered!
As a criminal defense attorney in Lafayette, Indiana for the last decade, Bryan has seen some things in court…read on for the top five mistakes he has seen committed in a courtroom (and how to avoid them)!
1. You Said $%#& What??
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Remember your mother nagging you with this saying? Well, it’s valid both outside and inside the courtroom!
Here’s a list of rules concerning what should never be uttered:
#2 Absolutely no cursing:
The judge and members of the courthouse can find swearing extremely offensive and they can find you in contempt of court, which can lead to steep fines and even jail time!
#3 Control your temper:
No one is ever happy about going to court…especially if you have been wronged. It is, however, of the utmost importance to control your temper and never speak with an attitude to the judge. Work on speaking clearly and respectfully—it can work in your favor!
#4 Stop reciting:
Don’t memorize a script! Your testimonial should sound authentic and be spoken in your “own words,” not something you concocted with the help of your mother. When you speak from the heart, you will hold more weight and sound more convincing.
#5 Don’t volunteer information:
Answer only the questions that you are specifically asked! You may want to provide additional information to sound truthful and helpful, but don’t do this—you could contradict yourself later or let something slip that can be used against you. The judge appreciates short, simple answers that fully answer the question—no more and no less.
2. Always Be On Time
Something as simple as showing up on time for your court date can make all the difference!
You remember the Judge Judy episode where she furiously points at the clock as the five-past marker ticked by…you could feel her anger through the TV! Don’t let that be you!
By arriving late to your court date, you are essentially telling the judge that their time does not matter to you. In addition to angering the judge, you can also serve jail time for arriving late! It counts as failing to appear when court was ordered and can carry serious consequences.
Your criminal defense attorney in Lafayette, Indiana will always advise you to be early! You should factor in travel delays, parking time, and the time it takes to move through security within the courthouse.
3. Always Dress Professionally
While self-expression is important, the time to do so is not in the courtroom—you need your outfit to blend in and not attract attention.
Avoid over-accessorizing and try to cover visible tattoos when able. Try to take out facial piercings before court.
Dress pants and skirts are appropriately paired with blouses and sweaters. Try to cover your shoulders and avoid shirts with a low neckline. Plain colored pumps, flats, and boots are accepted.
Nice button-down shirts paired with dress pants and a tie are the norm. In the winter, a suit jacket can be worn. You should always choose black or brown dress shoes to complete the outfit.
4. “Yes, Your Majesty”
You called the judge what??
Never refer to a judge as anything other than “your honor.” It is extremely offensive to say “judge,” or call the judge by their first or last names. Practice saying “your honor” to avoid blurting out the wrong title.
5. Always Listen Carefully to What Is Being Asked
Take a deep breath and stop thinking of your next response! It’s natural to want to answer the questions as quickly as possible, but you must listen to the question and comprehend what is being asked to avoid rambling!
Don’t worry about faltering, your criminal defense attorney will be right there if you need help.
You Now Know How to Act in Court, You Just Need One Last Thing…
A criminal defense attorney!
With over a decade of experience with representing criminal defense cases, Bryan Coulter provides strategic, personalized defense—discussing your challenges and how to protect your rights.