Don't Be Late To Court

Yesterday , I posted a criminal law tip of the day on my office's facebook page . I thought my next tip should be on the blog because it gives those facing criminal charges some advice on how to survive the criminal court process.

Today's tip is to be early for court. If court starts at 9:00 A.M., plan to get there thirty minute before the docket call. The reason is some judges treat those that come to court late a little tougher. Some judges in Nashville call the docket at different times even though you are told to be there at nine. The reason to come early is to take away a little stress. Traffic jams or the line at the elevator in the A.A. Birch Building are good reasons to get to court early. Another thing is you may get your case settled early. I know I like to get to court early if possible to talk to the assistant district attorney to discuss possible plea bargains on the case. the bottom line is to make a good impression. You don't want the court yelling at you for being late while your case is under discussion.


Should You Testify At The Preliminary Hearing ?

If you are arrested for a criminal charge or DUI in Tennessee , you are entitled to have a preliminary hearing . A preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is probable cause that a crime has been committed. The key question is whether you should testify at that hearing in your defense.

 Last week is a prime example of what not to do. Mark Sevier was charged of stalking country music star John Rich.  Mr. Sevier took the stand at the preliminary hearing to testify. You can click the link to read some of the comments. During his testimony , Mr. Sevier alleged that the court was with the group of "pawns"  helping Rich get his revenge. Needless to say , it did not go well for him and his case was bound over to the Davidson County grand jury.

Here is the takeaway from this story. First , as a general rule you should never testify at a preliminary hearing Why ?

  • All of your statements are recorded.
  • It gives the government a chance to cross examine you.
  • The recorded statement can be used against you to impeach your testimony at trial .
  • The government will learn of your defense.
  • The burden of proof is lower at a preliminary hearing.

The bottom line is you should never testify at a preliminary hearing. It is your right to testify if you wish . My guess is Mr.Sevier testified against his lawyer's advice. Look where that got him.


Fashion Advice on Going to Criminal Court in Nashville

Scot Greenfield commented on a New York judge incarcerating a young man until his baggy pants were pulled up over his boxers. I must agree with Mr. Greenfield in that my personal style does not include baggy pants. However , it does with my son. I have no idea why it is fashionable. Personally , I don't care what people wear in their day to day life. For me , I enjoy seeing some of the clothes that people wear from hipsters to urban clothes. A court appearance is a different matter because you are being judged by a District Attorney , a Judge , and sometimes a jury.

Most courts in Nashville have some type of dress code. No baggy pants , shorts , or revealing tops is the standard. Dressing for success still counts when you go to court facing a criminal charge. It can make a difference and I have seen it time and time again make a difference in plea bargaining discussions. Unfair as it may seem , a book is still judged by it's cover.

I would suggest the following ;

  1. Men should wear a long sleeve shirt and pants. Coat and and tie if you want to and feel comfortable wearing it.
  2. For women , slacks and blouse is fine. Feel free to dress up more if you want .
  3. Use common sense. Wear what you wear to church , a wedding , or a funeral.

When your at the club or a concert wear whatever. In court , dress thinking about what kind of result you want in court. Put your best foot forward.