The authorities accused you of a crime. You spent a little time in jail, but you called your local bail bond company and paid the authorities to release you until your court date. But what do you do now?
Unfortunately, you can’t sit back and wait. You need to actively prepare for your eventual court date-your actions during this time will affect how the judge and jury settle your case. Use these steps to ensure they give you a favorable ruling:
1. Follow the Conditions of Release.
When you make bail, the authorities give you “conditions of release,” which you will have to follow carefully. However, you shouldn’t have too much trouble following the conditions. Common conditions include
- Reporting requirements: You will have to appear at court on a certain day at a certain time. If you don’t the police will come looking for you. The court may require you to report to an official or group of officials before the court date to keep a closer eye on you.
- Travel restrictions: Normally, these restrictions keep you from leaving the state, but they can also stop you from leaving the city, entering other people’s homes or businesses, or even leaving your own home. The police will arrest you if you don’t comply.
- Curfew: You may have to go home by a certain time every night.
- Surrendered documents: To keep you from traveling, the court may take your passports and other necessary documents- sometimes even your driver’s license.
You may have other conditions depending on the nature of your alleged offense. Make sure you follow all of them.
2. Stay on Your Best Behavior.
You don’t want to make your situation worse by accidentally (or intentionally) breaking the law while you await your court date. Follow all traffic laws, don’t get drunk, treat your family well, and maintain a professional,well-mannered appearance as much as possible.
Although people wish they didn’t judge based on appearances, they nearly always do, even if they do it subconsciously. Don’t let the judge or jury make any suppositions about you-win their sympathy by maintaining a refined appearance.
Keep your hair well-groomed. If you’re a man, you may want to cut it short to make yourself look more professional. But no matter what you do, it must be clean and neat.
Shave your facial hair. Even if facial hair makes you look more distinguished, you should still shave it. The jury will better respect a plaintiff who puts effort into appearance.
Maintain good personal hygiene. Shower, brush your teeth, wear cologne or perfume-do exactly what you’d do for a job interview or a date.
Dress business casual. Jeans and a T-shirt create a more juvenile, immature image while a suit or a dress makes you look more responsible. Show your best possible self to the judge and jury, and they’ll give you more consideration.
If you dress professionally already, you won’t have to change much to make a good impression. But if you act and dress more casually, develop your image before your court date.
3. Hire a Lawyer.
Unless you’re also a lawyer, you don’t know all the intricacies and nuances within the legal code, so you need to hire an expert. Find a criminal defense attorney in your area with a good reputation, and meet with him or her to discuss your case. Most lawyers offer a free initial consultation, so you shouldn’t have to worry about paying for a first interview.
You should only hire a lawyer if he or she
- Genuinely cares about your case
- Meshes well with your personality
- Has plenty of experience with cases similar to yours
- Has a good track record
A lawyer knows what laws to study and what words to use when addressing the jury. You have a better chance of receiving a satisfactory settlement if you have a lawyer on your side.
4. Be Punctual.
When the day of your court date arrives, leave early to go to the courthouse. Arriving early or on time shows your commitment to the law, and it makes the judge and jury more likely to give you a favorable ruling. Arriving late shows a lack of respect, leading to less favorable rulings with more jail time and more expensive fines. Don’t let a little tardiness put your court case in jeopardy!
If you fail to appear completely, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest. It will also confiscate your bail money, and it will turn a less forgiving eye on your original offence. However, if you follow the law, the proceedings should go smoothly.
To learn more about court proceedings, call your lawyer. You don’t have to weather this difficult experience on your own. He or she will work hard you make the most of your time out on bail.