What to Expect at Court

By Attorney Daveta Williams

If it is your first time in the criminal justice system, you may wonder what to expect at court. Typically, what you can expect at court is a number of legal professionals addressing their case, one by one, before a presiding judge. The judge assigned to your case is the judge you will appear before at each court appearance. It is expected that everyone inside the courtroom, both legal professionals and clients, will be respectful, dressed appropriately, and prepared and ready to handle each case so that the court’s schedule can run efficiently and as quickly as possible.

One of the first court appearances you will have is the first appearance if arrested. If you are arrested, within 24 hours, you will see a first appearance judge. This judge may or may not be assigned to your case. At first appearance, the judge will determine whether there was probable cause for arrest and determine bond and release conditions. The next scheduled court date is called an arraignment. If your case proceeds to arraignment, this means the State Attorney has filed formal charges by Information. At arraignment, you will be advised of the charges and the maximum punishment for each charge. You will be given the opportunity to enter a plea of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ and will be afforded the opportunity to retain an attorney if you have not done so prior to this date. After arraignment, your case will be scheduled for a status hearing called pretrial conference. Between arraignment and pretrial conference, the State Attorney will disclose any available evidence intended for use at trial and will disclose a witness list. At the pretrial conference, the case is either resolved or the case is set for Trial. 

After the resolution of a pending criminal case, you can expect fines and court costs to be assessed. The Court gives the option to pay court costs and court fines by a deadline or according to a payment plan with the Clerk’s Office.

If your case proceeds to trial, on the day of trial, you should come to court dressed in business casual attire to make a great first impression on the jury. On the day of trial, your attorney will announce to the court that they are ready for trial. At this time, the State may do the same. In some instances, the State announces a Nolle Prosequi (dismissal). If both parties are ready to proceed with trial, the court will then prepare the courtroom for jury selection. The Defendant and defense attorney will sit at one table and the State Attorney will sit at the other table. At trial, it is expected that the attorneys will act in a professional manner, be respectful to each other, the jury, the judge, and any witnesses called to testify. You can expect the defense attorney to zealously advocate on behalf of their client.

If you are accused of a crime and want to speak with an attorney who will zealously advocate on your behalf please give us a call at (407) 500-4267. Here at Gans Law, we know what it takes to defend your case.

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