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Tips for Your First Criminal Court Appearance


After a person is arrested, they are arraigned in court within a few days or weeks, depending on the jurisdiction. An arraignment is the first formal court appearance where a criminal suspect stands before a judge, hears the charges against them, and enters a plea. For many people, an arraignment is a nerve-wracking experience. Fortunately, if you are waiting to make your first criminal court appearance, there are some steps you can take to make the experience less scary. Below are five tips for your first criminal court appearance.

  1. Speak With an Attorney

Speaking to a criminal defense lawyer is one of the most important things you should do before your first court appearance. An attorney can help you understand what to expect during your court appearance. They can explain court procedures and help you understand what is expected of you once you show up. In short, a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you prepare for your arraignment.

  1. Organize Yourself

Before your first criminal court appearance, ensure you are as prepared as possible. Get everything in order ahead of time to avoid surprises during your arraignment. You don’t want to get to your arraignment only to find out that something is missing. Ensure you organize all necessary documentation ahead of time. Some items you might need for your arraignment include identification, court summons, and financial records. If you have a defense attorney, speak to them before your arraignment and ask them about the items you need to organize beforehand. Ensure you have everything your attorney asks you to organize.

  1. Familiarize Yourself With the Court’s Location Ahead of time

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is arriving late to your arraignment. Arriving late to your arraignment can have serious consequences. If you are unsure about the court’s location, you should familiarize yourself with it beforehand. Take a trip before your court date to acquaint yourself with the route.

  1. Plan What You’ll Wear Ahead of Time

It might seem like what you wear during your first court appearance is not a big deal, but it is. Appearance matters in court. First impressions count. Dressing appropriately demonstrates that you take the situation seriously and respect the court. When attending criminal court, it is advisable that you opt for something you can wear to a job interview or a formal business meeting.

  1. Arrive Early and Meet With Your Lawyer

On the day of your arraignment, arrive at the courtroom early and meet with your attorney. During this meeting, ask your attorney any last-minute questions you may have. Asking last-minute questions before an arraignment can help provide clarity, allow you to make informed decisions, ensure you are up-to-date, and reduce anxiety.

  1. Follow Your Attorney’s Instructions

Finally, ensure you follow your attorney’s instructions. If there is something you don’t understand, ask for clarification.

Contact Us for Legal Help

If you face an upcoming court appearance in New York, our NYC criminal attorney, Mark I. Cohen, is available to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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