Will I Need To Be In Court?
Yes - however, there are exceptions. The majority of the time the court will require the defendant's presence at all hearings. However, if you are charged with a misdemeanor and live out of state there are times where we can ask the court to have you appear via telephone or through your attorney. In the end it is up to the court as to whether it will allow this request, but typically if the request is reasonable, the court is willing to provide reasonable accommodation.
When Should I Show Up To Court?
You should arrive ten to fifteen minutes early, unless your attorney tells you otherwise. There's probably no need to show up more than fifteen minutes early.
Do not show up late! Do not even risk it! Showing up late to court can result in the judge issuing a warrant for your arrest due to your "failure to appear." Even if you are able to rush in and convince the judge not to issue a warrant, keep in mind that you are trying to convince the judge that you are a good, law abiding, responsible individual - showing up late will never help you make this point. Also, in my experience, courtroom clocks run about five minutes fast. "On time" according to you will be "late" according to the court. Show up early and save yourself some stress.
What Should I Do When I Get To Court?
We meet our clients in the hall right outside the courtroom. Typically, we ask our clients to just sit on a bench there and wait for me to show up. If you don't see us and the clock is rapidly approaching the time set for your hearing, don't panic... we have not forgotten about you - often we are back in chambers talking with the judge or speaking to the prosecutor about your case. If you are nervous or if you are uncertain about where to be, go into the courtroom and wait for your name to be called.
Do I Need To Check In With Anyone When I Get To Court?
No. The judge will just call out your name and case number when they are ready to hear your case. You don't need to inform anyone that you've arrived.
How Do I Know What Courtroom My Case Is In?
This will depend upon the county. If your case is in Ada or Canyon counties your name will appear on an electronic board immediately beyond the metal detectors. If you can not find information about where you are supposed to be, ask the nearest public official or look for a help desk. If you can not find a public official ask the nearest attorney. Someone will take a moment to help you find where you are supposed to be.
How Long Will My Hearing Take?
Court hearings are run by a docket system. This means that several cases are scheduled for the same time. There is no set time for your specific case. The length of time your hearing will take depends on a number of factors: the county, the type of case, the number of cases on the docket, the number of cases ahead of you on the docket, the judge, etc. Cases are taken up one by one, there is no way to jump the line. Depending on the day a hearing can be fairly quick or quite lengthy.
If you have an Ada County or Canyon County misdemeanor case typically you will be in and out of the courtroom in an hour or less. Felony cases can take much longer: you should plan for 1- 2.5 hours.
If your hearing is taking a long time, keep your cool! It never helps your situation to stand up and ask the judge "how long this going to take" (which I have seen done before), tell the judge you have somewhere to be (again, seen many times), or to be upset when you finally get before the judge. No one wants to be there waiting, just suck up and bare it - You have been charged with a crime, the judge does not care if this an inconvenience.
Should I Bring Anything With Me To Court?
It never hurts to bring all your case documents with you; however, it is not necessary to bring anything to court unless your attorney or the judge has previously told you differently.