Here’s What to Expect at a Court Hearing
April 19, 2020
A court hearing can be quite daunting, whether it’s your first or fifth time going. When you go to court, it is generally said that you’re attending a “hearing.” Preparing for a hearing can cost a lot of time, effort, and expenses for both the plaintiff and the defendant. However, it is crucial to prepare to the best of your ability so that the outcome is one that’s in your favor.
If you have never been to court, a good place to start is to go see another hearing, preferably one that is similar to your case. This will give you a better sense of the entire process and can remove some of the uncertainty you have. Otherwise, check out Arizona’s example of how a case moves through the court system.
A Successful Hearing
Time and dates are critical to a successful hearing. Usually, you can find your hearing’s date and time on the courthouse’s website. Check for a court “docket” or “calendar.” Missing or being late to a hearing is more common than one might expect and will leave a bad impression on your part. Prepare to arrive early for your scheduled time, as there are several things to do beforehand that could cause you to be late.
When you enter the courthouse, you will have to go through security, so refrain from bringing firearms or any type of weapons. Several courthouses have multiple floors and courtrooms and finding the correct room can be confusing. Make sure you know your exact courtroom and ask the court clerk for help if needed. When you arrive at the door of your room, make sure your phone is on silent. Meet with your attorney and check to make sure you have brought all your necessary documents.
If you have an attorney representing you, then you shouldn’t need to bring much. The attorney will have whatever is needed. However, if you are acting on your behalf (pro se), then it’s important to bring all documents relevant to your case. This will be the supporting evidence to assist during oral arguments. In general, it is good to have multiple copies of the same documents, in case the other parties need to examine them. Some examples of the types of evidence you may bring to court include medical records, photographs, witnesses, and invoices. Bringing all the relevant evidence you need is crucial; otherwise, you may be ruled against for lack of proof.
Entering the Courtroom
When you enter the courtroom, wait for your name to be called before going to the front. The judge will ask you to speak, so be patient and wait for your turn. Do not speak unless the judge addresses you and only speak to the judge. Address the judge as “your honor” or simply, “judge” will also generally be okay. Always be respectful when speaking and refrain from cursing. It is okay to let the judge know when you do not understand a certain question or if you are unsure of what is expected of you. While it is normal to be a little nervous, some good practice can help you speak with confidence and coherence. Decide what you will say beforehand and create a clear, concise argument.
The judge may make a decision during your hearing or decide after the hearing is done. Make sure to listen to instructions once the hearing is over to know whether you need to come back again for another hearing or if you are required to do something additional.
A Stressful but Important Process
It can be a very stressful process to go to court and attend a hearing. However, it’s an important process which could help you in many ways. If you’re looking to expunge or seal a criminal record, a hearing can be a crucial step. The freedom of having a fresh start will greatly outweigh the difficulties once the entire process is over. Make sure to prepare to the best of your ability so that you don’t have to spend more time and effort than needed.
If possible, it’s recommended that you seek the advice of an attorney to attend any court hearing. If you have a criminal record, try our free, secure eligibility test to see if you qualify for one of our services. For more about the WipeRecord process, view our homepage. We represent clients at court hearings in every state we serve. If you’ve been laid off and have a criminal record, we’re here to help get you back to work!
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