HOW TO COMPOSE YOURSELF IN A SOUTH CAROLINA COURT ROOM
If you’re facing criminal charges in South Carolina, you’re going to need to show up in court – and it’s in your best interest to know what’s appropriate when it comes to courtroom etiquette.
Respect the Court by Looking Smart
Dressing appropriately – whether for church, a dinner invitation, or court – is a show or respect. When dressing for court, remember that you don’t want to give the judge the impression that you don’t respect him or her, his or her courtroom, or anyone in his or her courtroom – it’s as simple as that. First impressions matter, so keep this in mind you’re dressing for your court appearance. A recent haircut, a freshly ironed outfit that leans toward business attire, and a respectful demeanor let the judge know that you respect the court and take the proceedings very seriously. A sloppy, haphazard appearance and a defiant attitude, on the other hand, can do more to hurt your case than you can imagine.
Mind Your Ps and Qs
When facing criminal charges, it’s not uncommon to feel like you’ve been disrespected by the arresting officer or like you’ve been wronged by the legal system in general – and you very well may have been – but the courtroom is not the appropriate venue for sharing your disgruntlement. When you’re in court, regardless of your opinion about the situation, it’s in your best interest to be on your best behavior.
Etiquette in the Court!
A courtroom can be an intimidating place, and it’s natural to feel some trepidation and uncertainty when you’re in the spotlight. There are, however, some general rules of courtroom etiquette that can help you navigate your courtroom appearance with panache:
- Dress the part – show up in your job interview clothes and make sure your hair’s well groomed.
- Never, ever miss or skip a court appearance. If you do, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest, your driver’s license may be suspended, and you can face an additional failure to appear charge.
- Arrive early for your court appearance – by allowing yourself additional time, you’ll be better prepared to deal with the unexpected – should it rear its ugly head.
- Shut down your smartphone before you enter the courtroom.
- Never bring children with you to a court appearance – make solid arrangements for childcare well in advance.
- Remain respectful, polite, and as calm as you can throughout the proceedings.
- Stand every time the judge enters or exits the courtroom.
- Address the judge as Your Honor.
- Direct any questions you may have to the judge – not to the prosecutor.
- When responding to a yes or no question, always end your answer with sir or ma’am.
- Never interrupt the judge, and if the judge talks over you, stop talking.
- Never mock, smirk, laugh inappropriately, or use foul language in the courtroom.
By following these rules, you’ll be well on your way to putting your best forward at your court appearance.
If You’re Facing Criminal Charges in the Columbia Area, Contact Criminal Defense Attorney William A. Hodge Today
Criminal charges can be terrifying, but William A. Hodge, Attorney at Law, has the experience, skill, and compassion to help guide you through this difficult situation and to aggressively advocate for your case’s best possible outcome. I’m William, and I’m here to help, so please contact or call me at 803-457-2216 today.