So you got a ticket for going 92 miles per hour in a 55 zone. Or some girl got mad and said that you popped her in the jaw. You in a heap’a trouble, boy!
But do you want to be locked up for contempt of court? Do you want to piss of a judge, who can make enormously important decisions that can cost you time, effort, freedom, and money? Or do you want to breeze on through your sojourn in the legal realm with the least bite possible taken out of you?
In my career as an investigator, I find myself testifying in court frequently. In the last twenty years, I have noted a distinct decline in the level of behavior and dress of people who I see in court. Many younger men especially have no idea how to dress or act. I see them in court will ball caps, Jim Beam t-shirts, and smelling of weed and body odor. Things do not typically work out well for them.
Part of this is due to the loss of fathers raising their sons and teaching them these things, since the mother took the kids and is raising them in between spending dad’s child support check on Oxycontin and pulling trains of drunk Mexicans. Part of this is due to the general trend of more people being shitbirds. Whatever you think are the reasons, you don’t want to be part of it on your court date.
The problem is that the judge, the clerks, the bailiffs, and the attorneys are from a class of people who still value formal dress and polite behavior. No matter the merits of your case, they will look at improperly-dressed-and-impolite-you as a low-life who is deserving of punishment, and not like someone they would ever voluntarily have any interaction with. What you want to do is to look like you belong to their class of people, and that whatever happened, it was surely not your fault, or at worst, it was a lapse in judgement and not a lifestyle.
1. Get a lawyer
Unless you are VERY sure about what is going on, or the charge is VERY minor, the money spent to protect your rights is well worth it. No, I do not like paying such fees, either. Yes, the systems sucks that you have to do this. Put your idealism aside, for I am speaking here as a practical man. You bet your ass I would retain an attorney if my life, my liberty, large amounts of my property, or my driving privilege was at stake.
2. Wear a pressed suit with a pressed shirt and a conservative tie
Before you bitch about the cost, go see if you can buy one at a thrift store. I have a really nice Brooks Brothers suit I got for $8.00 at Goodwill. A white shirt with a blue tie is a good choice. Look like you are a responsible, gainfully employed legal citizen and not some asshole criminal. Maybe in Detroit, it helps to look like a pimp or a gang banger, but most places it doesn’t help. Tone it down, and keep it cool. And no hats, wife beaters, or t-shirts!
3. Get a conservative haircut, take a shower, and cover any visible tattoos around your face or neck with makeup
4. The only visible jewelry should be a ring or two
No earrings or tongue rings. A college class ring and a wedding ring will add points for your “decent citizen” look. If you didn’t go to college, pick up a ring at a pawn shop. If the DA mentions that he went to the same school or something, tell him you wear it in memory of your now deceased brother who went there.
5. Get there early and take a seat. Look at what is going on and get oriented
If something is confusing, you, Mr. Peaceable Citizen Who Is there Early, can probably get a friendly answer from one of the functionaries (clerk, bailiff, Assistant DA, etc) who is in the courtroom before the judge walks in.
6. Speak the King’s English and then some
“Yes sir,” “No sir,” “Yes, Your Honor,” “No, Your Honor.” This is not the time for impolite speech, cuss words, slang, or the like.
7. If your attorney is not in court yet, make sure to answer the calendar call loudly and clearly and politely
If you are there, but the court doesn’t know it, you may well be counted as failing to appear. Most places, an order for arrest or a bench warrant will be issued, along with possible forfeiture of any bonds you have paid.
8. Leave your cell phone in the car
Some judges will find you in contempt if your phone goes off, and some courthouses will not even let you have one in the building. You will survive if you ignore Fakebook for a few hours.
9. Leave your guns, knives, and other weapons in the car
Many courthouses won’t let you bring in even the smallest pocket knife. No, it doesn’t always make sense, but don’t be “that guy” who holds up progress for everyone behind you by challenging everything the guards tell you.
10. Don’t listen to advice from anyone who is not an attorney
Every “shithouse lawyer” in town will tell you some stupid legal theory or another if you are foolish enough to discuss things with him. This is helpful advice such as, “He can’t write you a ticket if he didn’t have his hat on,” or “If you asked if he was a cop, he has to tell you the truth.” None of this is true. Most of it comes from jailbirds for whom it obviously didn’t work. All of it will hurt you. Trust me.
11. Have the money to pay any anticipated fines and court costs with you IN CASH
If you have to pay, do it now, and don’t screw around. Get this done and over with, or you could be arrested for not paying.
12. Your day in court is not the time to make some big point about the fairness of the proceedings
Forget your speech about “My Rights as an American” or “The Po-Leece Be Harassin’ Me.” Deal with these things when you are not under the threat of being judged if you feel compelled to do so. Yes, I know, some parts of this are unfair. When you become king, please change it. Until then, it is best to deal with it practically!
13. If you are female, go read some other blog that tells you what you ought to wear and how to act
Or just show the judge and the DA your tits. Be creative. Let me know how it all works out.
Going to court can be a stressful experience. Bad things can happen, and you want to avoid these things as much as possible. These tips will not break your first degree murder charge down to jaywalking, but they can make a big difference in your outcome for many charges. They can certainly mean the difference between getting the benefit of the doubt and having the judicial smack-down put to you.
Your best bet is to never do anything to get into court in the first place. Your second best bet is to assimilate as much as you can, fly under the radar, take care of your business, and get out mostly unscathed. Good luck!
NOTE: I am not an attorney. None of this should be considered legal advice. I am not licensed to practice law anywhere on God’s Green Earth.
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