What happens the first time I go to Court
May we suggest that you first visit the section of this website entitled “COURT PROCEDURES”. The advantage to doing so is that each answer fits precisely the court session you may be facing.
Is it important how I dress?
Appearance is important because this is a very significant event in your life. Cleanliness and good grooming is important. If you are a professional or business person, a good suit or other professional attire is appropriate. If you are a laborer, a clerical employee or unemployed then good, clean, more casual clothing is quite appropriate. T-shirts, shorts or clothing with vulgar images and script are not acceptable. If you are in custody the prison clothing is satisfactory but your attorney may suggest that you wear civilian clothing.
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 before doing so 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 to include family, employment, residential, financial and health. The information requested is 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 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 trustworthiness.
If I am free and summoned to court will I continue to be free?
The court will make a decision on this possibility based upon the type and severity of the crime, the risk of danger to yourself or to the community and the risk of flight. The fact that you were summoned to court and appeared as directed is a point in your favor. It does not represent any guarantee of release. 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.