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Courtroom Conduct Tips for a Criminal Defendant

When you are a criminal defendant, your courtroom behavior can have a big impact on the outcome of your case. This was certainly the case with NFL player Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson during a recent courtroom appearance. After Johnson patted his attorney on the rear end, the judge rejected his plea bargain and sentenced Johnson to 30 days in jail. He later apologized and had 23 days knocked off the sentence. If you are the defendant in a criminal case, follow these key tips for courtroom success:

Arrive early. There are few things worse than being late for a criminal court appearance. Plan on arriving to the courtroom at least 30 minutes ahead of time. This gives you time to sit and mentally prepare for what is ahead.

Wear appropriate attire. As a criminal defendant, you should dress in a manner that conveys the seriousness of the situation. Wear clothes that are clean, pressed and professional. Men should wear a long sleeved button-up shirt with a tie. Women should wear conservative attire, as if attending a religious service.

Be respectful. The judge and the jury observe the demeanor of the defendant during the entirety of the trial, and this could influence their verdict. When you are in the courtroom, you need to act respectfully at all times. This means when you are on the witness stand as well as when you are at the defense table. Poor courtroom behavior can even result in additional criminal charges, such as contempt of court. Here are some basic rules to follow:

  • Make sure your cell phone is turned off completely, not just left on vibrate. In Cook County, cell phones and other electronic devices are not allowed in some courthouses.
  • Don’t put your hands in your pockets
  • Don’t talk or make excessive noise
  • Don’t eat or drink inside the courtroom

Pay attention. Make sure that you pay attention to everything that happens in the courtroom regarding your case. This means listening to the judge, the bailiffs and the attorneys. If you have a question or comment, write it down and give it to your attorney.

When you are a defendant in a criminal case, your liberty may be on the line. You need an experienced and aggressive Cook County criminal defense attorney. Call our office today to schedule a meeting with a dedicated defense lawyer.

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Paul Chatzky
Founder

About Born in Havana, Cuba, Paul Chatzky is fluent in Spanish and English, enabling him to effectively represent a wider range of individuals and businesses. He is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, and is listed among Illinois Super Lawyers, which is a reflection of his high ethical standards and exceptional legal knowledge. As…

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Deborah E. Chatzky
Paralegal

About Prior to joining the firm as a paralegal, Debbie was employed by major banking institutions as a loan processor and as an executive secretary. Debbie was also employed as an administrative assistant for the Board of Jewish Education. Having majored in Sociology, Debbie graduated from the University of Florida in 1980. Debbie completed her…

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