Court etiquette – Reminders for those who are not represented by a criminal or traffic lawyer
The judge, and other courtroom formalities, can be intimidating places. If you have been charged with a criminal offence or know someone who has been charged, and are anxious about how to act or what to do when at Court, this short article sets out some basic information with what is required of you.
While this article is confined to what is otherwise known as “Court etiquette” (how one is expected to act in Court), National Criminal Lawyers ™ also have other videos on explaining who is who in Court? Click here to watch the video.
WHAT IS COURT ETIQUETTE?
The noun “etiquette” describes the requirements of behaviours according to conventions of society. It includes the proper conduct that is established by a community for various occasions, including ceremonies, Court, formal events and everyday life.
Without being exhaustive, there are nine (9) basic rules on Court Etiquette as they apply to members of the public, clients and witnesses in NSW Courts. They are as follows:
Rule No. 1: When you are required to attend Court, you must be on time. If you are not on time or are absent the Judge may revoke your bail and even convict you in your absence. If you cannot attend Court or are running late for whatever reason you should let your lawyer and the Court know as soon as practicable. You will/may also need to properly provide evidence why you are late or absent via an Affidavit or properly addressed and completed Medical Certificate;
Rule No. 2: Upon arrival at Court you should meet with your lawyer outside the Courtroom or inside the courtroom where your case is to be heard. The court officer or your solicitor will then call your name when your case is ready to be heard. You should listen carefully for this and stay where you can hear your name called;
Rule No. 3: Making a good impression is important when you go to Court. You should wherever possible wear clothing that would be appropriate for business;
Rule No. 4: The judge not only represents the ultimate authority in the court, but also the law. When the judge enters the courtroom, you should stand up and bow and not sit down until he/she has sat down;
Rule No. 5: When in Court and or around Court premises you must observe courteous and orderly behavior. All persons in the Courtroom must remain courteous even when disagreeing with the judge’s ruling on an objection or motion;
Rule No. 6: “When addressing the court, you should use the title ‘your honor’;
Rule No. 7: Under no circumstances should electronic devices be used in court by clients, witnesses or members of the public;
Rule No. 8: Turn off electronic devices and cell phones before entering the courtroom; and
Rule No. 9: Stand when speaking to the judge and/or when making or meeting an objection or asking any question. Do not interrupt others while they are talking;
IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH A CRIMINAL OFFENCE WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?
National Criminal Lawyers ™ only employ the best Criminal Lawyers Sydney has to offer. Moreover, we have been successful in defending thousands of charges where the prosecution could not establish each of the elements of criminal charges.
For further information on the arrest process click here.
National Criminal Lawyers ™ offer the following options for those who have been charged with a criminal offence;
1. We will negotiate with prosecutors (police or DPP) (a term referred to as “plea negotiations”) to request that the charge is withdrawn, downgraded or fact sheets amended;
2. We can on your instructions facilitate a plea of Not Guilty and go to hearing/trial and attempt to persuade the Court that prosecution has not proven its case beyond reasonable doubt;
3. We can on your instructions facilitate a plea of guilty to the elements of the charge and then dispute the facts (at a special “disputed facts” hearing) with the view of having you sentenced less harshly; and/or
4. Plead guilty with full acceptance of the facts as set out by the police and make strong submissions on your behalf requesting that the Court not record a criminal conviction, or have you sentenced to the least restrictive penalty available.