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Criminal Charges? Here’s How to Prepare for Your Day in Court

Criminal Charges? Here’s How to Prepare for Your Day in Court

Persons charged with criminal offenses often have to appear in court. Defendants need to be prepared for the arraignment because their presentation can significantly impact their fate.

Hiring a Criminal Law Attorney

Court processes are often complicated when a defendant is facing serious charges. Working with a criminal law attorney from the start can help ensure a successful outcome. A criminal defense lawyer guides the defendant on the court processes and handles most of the procedures. The attorney will also present the defendant’s case before the judge and jury and challenge the prosecution’s evidence. Even if the defendant decides to plead guilty, a criminal lawyer can often negotiate for a lenient sentence or reduced fine on behalf of the accused. If the defendant can’t afford a lawyer, the state is obliged to provide him or her with one.

The accused may wish to consult with several attorneys before making a decision about who to hire for legal representation.

Deciding How to Plea

Prior to appearing in court, the defendant needs to decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty. A criminal law attorney will consider the circumstances of the offense, evaluate the prosecution’s evidence, and the severity of the penalties to help determine the best plea option.

The attorney may advise the defendant to plead guilty or innocent, depending on the nature and extent of the evidence. If the attorney advises the accused to plead guilty, it is likely that the prosecution has compelling evidence. If, however, the prosecution’s evidence is questionable or there is evidence that will likely prove the defendant guilty, the criminal lawyer may recommend that the accused enter a not guilty plea.

Seeking Rehabilitation

If the defendant decides to plead guilty, he or she should take the initiative to show the judge that he or she is committed to improving his or her behavior. One way of doing this is registering for counseling classes or joining a rehabilitation program.

For instance, someone who is charged with assault or road rage may register for an anger management course. The attorney will advise on the court-approved courses in the area for particular offenders. Seeking rehabilitation may convince the court to give lenient sentences, especially if this is the first offense.

 Preparing A Strong Defense

If the defendant decides to plead not guilty, he or she should have sufficient evidence to prove innocence. While the defendant’s criminal law attorney will gather most of the evidence and document it for presentation in court, the accused can help by gathering photos, videos, witness contact information, and anything else that might influence the outcome of the case.

The defendant’s criminal law attorney will request law enforcement officers to provide a police report. The attorney will then evaluate the prosecution’s case to find flaws that may raise reasonable doubt. The attorney may cross-examine the accused to obtain more information that may help build a strong defense. If defendants have knowledge of evidence the prosecution can use against them in court, they should discuss those things with their attorneys as well.

Planning to Be in Court All Day or on Multiple Days

Defendants should plan to be in court all day, or even on multiple days if the criminal case is complicated. They should make child care arrangements, notify their employers that they may need to miss work, and make transportation arrangements ahead of time. The courts frown upon defendants who arrive at court late.

Going to Trial

On the day of the trial, the defendant and his or her lawyer should present their evidence, including witness testimonies in court. The attorney will challenge the prosecution’s claims or present evidence showing that the defendant is innocent. It will be up to the judge to listen to the evidence and decide whether the defendant is guilty or innocent.

Dressing Appropriately

People often judge others based on their physical appearance. The way a defendant is dressed can play an important role in how the court treats him or her. By dressing in a conservative and respectful manner, with clean slacks or a skirt and a nice shirt or dress, the defendant demonstrates that he or she is taking the matter seriously.

Addressing the Judge Properly

Defendants should use formal language when addressing the court. They should refer to the judge as ‘Your Honor’ to convey respect. They should also rise when the judge enters the courtroom, when the judge addresses them, and when they address the judge.

Appearing in court requires adequate preparation because criminal defense can be complicated. Making a bad impression or appearing ill-prepared can significantly increase the risk of conviction and imprisonment.  

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