INFORMATION ABOUT COURTS
Do I need to hire an attorney?
If you are a victim of a crime, one of our lawyers will help you through the criminal justice process. You do not need to hire a private attorney for the criminal proceeding. You may contact us to find out which Assistant District Attorney is handling your case and who your Victim/Witness Coordinator will be.
If you need help with a civil case, then you may require the services of a private attorney. The District Attorney’s Office is prohibited from providing legal advice on any civil matters. The Bar Association of your local county may offer a lawyer referral service.
What should I wear?
All individuals entering the courtroom must be dressed appropriately, cleanly, and neatly. Dress that is disturbing and distracting in court is inappropriate. Your clothes and appearance must not disrupt the judicial process. Hats and non-prescription dark glasses may not be worn in the courtroom unless you do so for medical or religious reasons.
If you are dressed inappropriately, you may be ordered to leave the courtroom.
Bring the proper documentation
Make sure that you have all your available paperwork, and that it is organized and ready to present. Examples include receipts, letters, bills, phone records, calendars, text messages, and photos. The Assistant District Attorney and Victim/Witness Coordinator handling your case will want to review any paperwork that supports your case. This paperwork may be presented to the Judge as a part of your case.
Don't miss your court date
On the scheduled day of trial or hearing, you should appear at the time indicated on your subpoena. If you have received a subpoena, do not miss a court date without being excused by the Court. For criminal cases, failing to appear for your court date may result in the Court issuing a capias or warrant for your arrest.
The Courthouses have metal detectors at their entrances
The purpose of the metal detectors is to provide protection for the public and court personnel. Any object that could be classified as a weapon, including guns, anything sharp, pocketknives, scissors, chains on a wallet, nail files, anything flammable, etc. cannot be brought into the building and will be confiscated by Court Security until you leave the building. Illegal weapons will be confiscated and not returned. All bags are subject to search. Cell phones may be prohibited depending on what court your cases is in.
Go to the correct courtroom
Make sure you know in which court you are supposed to appear. You may also ask your Victim/Witness Coordinator. Once you arrive, you may ask one of the court officers to help you find the correct courtroom. Once in the courtroom, notify your Victim/Witness Coordinator that you are present.
Proper conduct in the courtroom
It is important that everyone be able to hear and see what is happening during court. Therefore, when court is in session, you should refrain from reading, talking, chewing gum, making distracting noises, or any other inappropriate or distracting conduct.
Food and beverages are prohibited in all courtrooms.
If you must bring a child to court, it is often best to leave the child outside the courtroom with a responsible adult. If you have child-care issues, please contact your Victim/Witness Coordinator to let them know about the problem. We will try to help you find a solution.
You are not allowed to talk to, or otherwise communicate with, inmates.
Most of the courts in the Tenth Judicial District prohibit cell phones. If they are not prohibited, certain rules apply to their possession in court. All cell phones and other electronic devices must be turned off while court is in session. Any device that makes noise during court is subject to confiscation. The Court may choose not to return the device or to charge the owner a fine for disrupting the proceedings. You may not text message or make phone calls in the courtroom.
Do I have to talk to the defense attorney?
It is your decision whether or not to talk to the defense attorney. If you choose to speak with the defense attorney, you may ask your Victim/Witness Coordinator to be present during that conversation.
What should I do during trial or a hearing?
The courtroom is a very traditional and polite place. When speaking to the Judge, you must stand and address him/her as “Your Honor.” Act respectfully, courteously, and politely to everyone in the courthouse.
Do not talk at a trial or hearing unless it is your turn to speak. If it is not your turn to speak, sit quietly in the courtroom. Do not use profanity, argue, or verbally react to statements given in court by the Judge, the defendant, witnesses, or attorneys. Our staff will discuss other courtroom procedures with you prior to your testimony.
If at any point you feel threatened in any way during this process, please tell your Victim/Witness Coordinator right away.