What to Do When Appearing in Court Charged With Criminal Offences

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Brittany LlewellynJon RossThe article Top 10 Practical Considerations When Appearing in Court is written by Jon Ross and Brittany Llewellyn of Doogue + George Defence Lawyers.

Jon Ross is a Senior Associate at Doogue + George. He currently manages our Broadmeadows office. Prior to this he practised at one of London’s largest criminal defence firms for over 20 years.

Brittany Llewellyn is one of the firm’s Associates based at our Broadmeadows office. Prior to joining the firm, Brittany was a County Court Judge’s Associate.


Men Discussing Considerations When Appearing in CourtStepping into a courtroom for a criminal case can evoke a mix of emotions – apprehension, uncertainty, and perhaps even fear. However, with thorough preparation and guidance, you can navigate the legal landscape with confidence.

From understanding the charges against you to mastering courtroom etiquette, we’ll equip you with the knowledge and tools you need to mount a robust defence, protect your rights and ensure your side of the story is properly presented.

1. Understand the Charges and the Case Against You

The first step in preparing for your criminal defence case is to fully understand the charges, and the case, against you. What specific offences have you been accused of? What do the prosecution have to prove, and to what standard, in order for the court to find you guilty? What are the potential penalties if convicted? Take the time to familiarise yourself with the details of your case, including any evidence that the prosecution plan to present.

2. Consult With a Criminal Defence Lawyer

Navigating the criminal justice system can be complex and daunting, especially if you are facing serious charges. Consulting with an experienced criminal defence lawyer who specialises in the type of case you’re facing is essential – you may have a defence to the charges or an explanation for the allegations which should be put forward, either in negotiations, or in court. We often see that there are matters alleged by the police which are unfair to our clients or otherwise not permitted. These things should be challenged and excluded from the proceedings. A skilled lawyer can provide advice, representation, and advocacy to help protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

3. Make Sure the Defence Case is Properly Prepared

It is crucial that your case is properly and fully prepared so that you can maximise the chances of meeting your objectives, whether that is seeking a not guilty verdict or a more lenient sentence.

Work closely with your defence lawyer to gather any evidence and material that support your case. Your lawyer can help you identify relevant evidence and material and ensure that they are presented effectively in court.

4. Know Your Rights

As a defendant in a criminal case, you have certain rights guaranteed under the law. Familiarise yourself with your rights, including the right to legal representation and the right to a fair trial. Understanding your rights will empower you to make informed decisions and assert your interests effectively.

5. Dress Appropriately

Your appearance in court can make a significant impression on the judge, jury, and other parties involved in your case. Dress in professional attire that conveys respect for the court and seriousness about the proceedings. Avoid clothing with offensive language or symbols, and opt for conservative clothing that aligns with courtroom decorum.

6. Practice Courtroom Etiquette

Proper courtroom etiquette is essential for maintaining a respectful and professional demeanour during your hearing. Familiarise yourself with the customs and procedures of the courtroom, including addressing the judge as “Your Honour”, standing when speaking, and refraining from interrupting others. Practice speaking clearly and confidently to ensure that you are easily understood by the court.

7. Review Court Procedures

Each courtroom in Victoria operates according to specific procedures and rules that govern the conduct of legal proceedings. Speak to your lawyer about the procedural requirements relevant to your court/hearing, including the schedule, location, and protocol for court appearances. Understanding court procedures will help you navigate the process smoothly and avoid any surprises on the day of your hearing.

8. Prepare to Give Evidence

If you’ll be giving evidence in court, it’s essential to prepare in advance. Review any key points or evidence you plan to present, and practice answering questions concisely and truthfully. It is important when giving evidence to make sure that you answer the question that is asked of you. However, in preparing for doing so, it can be helpful to anticipate potential questions from the prosecution and prepare thoughtful responses that support your defence strategy. Your lawyer can help advise in respect of this.

9. Arrange Transportation and Accommodations

Logistical considerations can impact your ability to focus on your case during your trial. Make arrangements for transportation to and from court, and plan to arrive early on the day of your hearing (this will also give you an opportunity for a further consultation with your lawyer at court).

If necessary, arrange for accommodations such as childcare or time off work to ensure that you can fully dedicate your attention to your case.

10. Stay Calm and Focused

Maintaining a calm and focused demeanour during your hearing is essential for presenting yourself in the best possible light. Try to stay calm, listen carefully to the judge and other parties, and avoid reacting emotionally to any statements or rulings. Your composure and professionalism in court can significantly impact the outcome of your case.

Positioning for Success in the Courtroom

Preparing for court hearing requires careful planning, preparation, and guidance. By understanding the charges, gathering defence material, seeking legal representation and mastering courtroom etiquette, you can position yourself for success in the courtroom.

Remember, you have the right to a fair trial and with the right approach you can effectively assert your rights and defend against the charges you face.

With thorough preparation and the support of an experienced criminal defence lawyer, you can navigate the legal process with confidence and achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
  
  
Date Published: 1 May 2024
  
  

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