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Courtroom Etiquette in Texas

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Courtroom Etiquette in Texas

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Anyone who has been inside of a courtroom in Texas knows that it is a serious environment. After all, it is a place where defendants go to hear whether or not they will face legal penalties for their alleged actions. However, people who have never been to court before may not understand proper courtroom etiquette.

Etiquette simple refers to the proper type of behavior for a particular setting. In court, it is important to behave in certain ways. This is especially true for defendants who are appearing before a judge or who are participating in a jury trial.

The judge, the prosecuting attorney and the jury are all paying close attention to the way that defendants dress, behave and speak. Failing to follow proper courtroom etiquette can cause juries to view a defendant in a negative way and, in some cases, inappropriate behavior can cause a judge to order that a defendant be taken into custody. Here are some tips to help defendants behave properly in court.

Be There On Time

This is the most important rule of courtroom etiquette. Courts run on a very tight schedule and judges do not like to be held up. On an average day in court, the judge might preside over dozens of cases. If one person is late, the entire process can be thrown off schedule. Follow these tips to make sure to get to court on time:

  • Mark the day of any appearances on a calendar that can be easily seen
  • The day before a court appearance, set two or more alarm clocks to be sure to wake up on time
  • Arrange for a friend to call the morning of the appearance to make sure everything is okay
  • If you have a car, fill it with gas, check the tires and make sure everything is working the night before a court appearance
  • If you don’t have a car, have a reliable friend give you a ride but make sure to have a back-up ride just in case
  • Lay out appropriate clothing the night before so there’s no need to get dressed in a hurry

Getting to court thirty minutes before the time of the hearing is a good idea. This will allow for any delays on the way to court and it will give the defendant time to find the appropriate courtroom. It will also allow a few minutes to talk to an attorney.

Dress Appropriately

It’s important to dress up for a court date. Not only does proper attire show respect for the court, it also shows the judge and jury that the defendant is taking this case seriously. Dress for court the same way you would dress for church, a funeral or an important job interview. Here are some tips:

  • Men should wear slacks, a dress shirt, a belt and a tie
  • Women should wear slacks and a blouse or an appropriate dress
  • Cover tattoos and remove facial piercings
  • Shower or bathe before court
  • Men should shave any excessive facial hair
  • Hair should be neatly combed or styled
  • No unnatural hair colors

Of course, not all defendants will have dress clothes to wear to court. If this is the case, try to borrow them from friends or family members. If this is not possible, wear the nicest clothes you own. Don’t wear anything torn, dirty or wrinkled.

Behave Appropriately

Courtroom behavior should be respectful, courteous and polite. A court date is not the time to yell or harangue the judge and jury. Let your attorney do the talking. If you have to address the judge directly, be brief and courteous and say “Yes, sir” or “No, ma’am” as appropriate.

  • Turn off cell phones or leave them outside
  • Do not chew gum or use tobacco products
  • Do not use profanity or obscene language
  • Speak only to your attorney, the judge and the bailiff
  • Obey any commands from the judge and the bailiff
  • Do not argue with the judge

After the court date, there will be plenty of time to talk to your attorney about the case. You will accomplish nothing by arguing with the judge except a charge of contempt of court.

Control Your Emotions

Court is a serious place and it’s a good idea to keep a straight face and keep emotions in check. Even if the judge imposes a harsh sentence or says something that sounds unfair, keep a straight face. If the judge addresses you, look him or her in the eye and pay attention.

  • Take deep breaths and keep calm
  • Don’t show emotion
  • Be aware and pay attention

These behaviors can’t guarantee a favorable outcome in court but misbehaving in court is a good way to cause negative consequences. Follow the tips listed above to give yourself the best possible day in court.

If you are facing an upcoming trial in Houston or surrounding areas, contact The Law Office of Greg Tsioros. We can help protect your rights and preserve your freedom. Call 832-752-5972 or email today for a free, confidential consultation.

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