Whether it's a simple traffic ticket or a serious felony charge, appearing in court can be intimiating and stressful. Even with an attorney, navigating the process can be a challenge. Here's a quick breakdown of the recommendations we make to our clients before their court date:
1. HIRE AN ATTORNEY. Here's a good rule of thumb: if you don't know whether you need a lawyer, then you need a lawyer. Even if you've been charged with a minor infraction, having a professional with experience can make the difference in knowing all the options and achieving the best possible result or ending up facing a mess of unintended consequences.
2. Know your court date/time and courtroom number. Visit the AOC's website for this information.
3. Know where you're going. If you have a criminal case, it will be heard in the Wake County Justice Center, located at 300 S. Salisbury Street Raleigh, NC 27601. Not to be confused with the Wake County Courthouse on Fayetteville Street.
4. Arrive early. Unless you have a matter set in courtroom 101 which has a more flexible schedule, criminal court generally begins in Wake County at either 9:00 am or 2:00 p.m. The specific time is indicated on the AOC website beside your courtroom number. Be sure to get there in enough time to park, walk to the Justice Center, and find your courtroom before the appointed time.
5. Answer the calendar call. The calendar will be called by the district attorney to begin the court session who will provide instructions on how to answer. In some courtrooms if you miss the calendar call a second one may take place midway through the session.
6. Plan to be patient. A day in court can be a drawn-out process. Whether you have an attorney working on your behalf or you're representing yourself, waiting is common. Between a crowded docket, a busy district attorney, and lawyers and defendants all trying to have their time in court, it can make for a chaotic scene. Prepared clients may bring a book, work, or something else to stay occupied. Please make sure your phone is off or on silent because a phone ringing in the middle of a court can result in loss of the phone or worse.
7. Dress well. No need for a suit and tie, but by dressing neatly a defendant shows respect to the judge and prosecutor which can impact the treatment he or she receives. In extreme situations, arriving sloppily dressed and ignoring instructions from the judge regarding appearance can result in contempt charges.
If you are facing criminal charges or have any questions, give our office a call and ask one of our experienced attorneys how we can help. It would be our privilege to represent you.