Enter the courtroom and sit close to the front. The very first row may be reserved for people in custody. When court starts the judge will enter and sit on the bench at the front of the room. A probation officer will usually sit to the judge's left or right and keep the judge informed about any probation information related to the case being called. The clerk will usually sit in front of the judge and will record what happens in each case in a case file. The prosecutor or assistant district attorney will usually sit at a table in front of the judge. He or she represents the state and will present information about the case obtained by the police.
Listen for your name to be called. Your name may be mispronounced so listen closely. When your name is called say "Present" loudly and clearly. If your name is called and you do not answer, it is the same as not being there. If your name is not called, notify the person who is calling the names, or a court officer, at the first recess or break. You may be in the wrong courtroom.
If you get to court late, stay in the courtroom. The assistant district attorney or other individual may call names a second time after court starts. At the next break or recess let the person who is calling the names or a court officer know that you are there, although if you are late, your case may need to be continued to another date.
Part 2: Arraignment or First Appearance in Court
- Can court staff help me?
- What should I wear to court?
- Where should I go when I arrive at the court building?
- What should I do when I enter the arraignment courtroom?
- What conduct is expected in the courtroom?
- Who are the people in the courtroom?
- What will happen at my arraignment?
- What is bail (or bond)?
- When can I first talk to my court appointed lawyer?
- Can I dispose of my case at arraignment?
- What happens when I talk to the prosecutor (during a break in my court appearance) about resolving my case?
- Can my case be continued?
- What could my punishment be?
- What happens if I am charged with a crime but I am not a United States citizen?
- What is the difference between civil infractions, misdemeanors and felonies?
- What happens if my case is not resolved at arraignment?
- What should I do before I leave court?
- Part 3: Pre-Trial, Trial and Verdict