Is it important how I dress?
Appearance is important because this is a very significant event in your life. Our advice is, don’t overdo it. Cleanliness and good grooming is important. If you are a business or professional person wearing a good suit or other professional attire may well be appropriate. If you are a laborer or clerical employee good, clean, more casual clothing is quite appropriate. If you are in custody the prison clothing is certainly appropriate but your attorney may suggest that you wear civilian clothing. T-shirts, shorts, and clothing with vulgar images or script are not acceptable.
Will I be able to talk to the Judge?
There is a part in the proceeding where you are free to address the court, however, you should consult with your attorney and follow the advice given.
What information must I bring to court?
Assuming you are represented by a criminal defense attorney, you should seek the advice of that attorney. Prior to your appearance you will meet in person or by telephone with a US Pretrial Services Officer. That officer will ask you questions about your background in areas that include family, employment, residential, financial and health. The information requested will be used by the presiding U. S. Magistrate Judge. During this first appearance you will not be asked about the conduct for which you are charged. You should avoid any reference to such conduct.
If I am in jail can I be released when I go to court?
Indeed the court has the authority to release you on bail or on your own recognizance. You and/or your attorney can request it. The court will make a decision based upon the type and severity of the crime, whether you pose a risk or danger to yourself, to the community, or a risk that you will not appear for future court sessions.
Is there anything I can do or say that will improve my chances of release?
You can make every effort to provide information that will confirm your trustworthiness. You are encouraged to be completely forthcoming. Make sure you do not provide information you know to be untruthful. You can begin by providing the pretrial services officer with all information requested and needed. Truthful responses are indications of that trustworthiness.
If I am free and summoned to court will I continue to be free?
The court will make a decision on this based upon the type and severity of the crime and the risk to flight. The fact that you were summoned to court and not arrested is a point in your favor. Your attorney will probably know whether the U.S. Attorney plans to agree to or oppose your continued freedom on bond. Your attorney will guide you in preparation for the first appearance.