Are you scheduled for your first court appearance? If so, it’s time to give your lawyer a call. It’s crucial to have a lawyer to assist you in these legal proceedings after you’ve been charged with a crime in North Carolina. You can benefit from an experienced lawyer to guide you in making your first impression on the court.
What You Should Know Before Your First Court Appearance
While each state differs in how they handle court proceedings, there are some similarities across all courts in the US in how they handle the arraignment (first court appearance). Once you know your first court date, you should speak to a lawyer about your case.
You need to know some things to familiarize yourself with the process and help prepare for your first court appearance.
- Organize the necessary documents.
If you have a lawyer, you must provide them with the necessary documentation for your case. It will help them with the court proceedings and provide the answers the judge needs, if necessary. Double-check what documents are needed so you can provide them to the court.
- Know where to go when you arrive in court.
You have two options on where to go when you arrive at the court. If the District Court handles your case, go to the District Court Probation Office. If the Superior Court handles your case, go to the Superior Court probation office.
If you’re unsure, the name of the court where you are supposed to appear will be stated in the document you received following your arrest. If you need help, you can ask at the information desk at the courthouse since they have a list of the scheduled cases for the day with the corresponding courtrooms.
- Conduct the intake interview
You will undergo an intake interview once you are in the correct court. The probation officer will ask you questions to identify information and collect data about your criminal history. The judge will use this information to address the current charges against you or determine whether you qualify for bail (and for how much).
After completing the interview, you must proceed to your designated court.
- Enter the courtroom
Find a seat at the front once you are at your designated courtroom. Once the judge enters the room and sits on the bench, a probation officer will sit next to them to give information about each case being handled. The clerk sits at the front and will record the details of the case to keep in each case file.
Wait for your name to be called. If they do, say “present.” Hence, it is crucial to arrive on time to ensure you can hear when your name is called out. If not, your first court appearance might be rescheduled for another date.
- What to do when your name is called
Once your name is called, the judge will look into your case. A court officer will tell you and your attorney to come close to a microphone. The lawyer will do most of the talking on your behalf.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer for Your First Court Appearance?
As mentioned, your lawyer will be the one who will talk to the judge during your first court appearance or arraignment. That is why it is essential to have a lawyer to handle your case because they know the inner workings of the court and can provide the best legal advice to you on what steps to take.
When you have a lawyer, you can plead not guilty before the court. The Not Guilty plea will allow you and your lawyer to investigate the case and collect further evidence to dismiss any charges against you, especially if you have been wrongly accused.
A Not Guilty plea means that you did not commit the crimes charged against you and that you seek to undergo trial. You can discuss it with a lawyer, and they can enlighten you about handling your case to free yourself of any charges.
How to Choose Your Lawyer
When choosing a lawyer to help you during your first court appearance, choose someone with plenty of experience handling arraignment cases. The criminal justice system relies on the first court appearance when determining the succeeding steps for your case.
An experienced and expert lawyer can help you navigate the nuances of your case and ensure you are on the right track to proving your innocence in court. Aside from hiring a lawyer with experience, working with a lawyer or law firm that understands North Carolina law and court proceedings is crucial. Each state is unique, and you need lawyers who are experts in local laws and court systems. You can leverage that expertise to boost your case!