13 Rules For Surviving A Court Appearance

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

Yes, seriously.

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

Free Speech

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.

Read More: 8 Essential Rules To Surviving The Workplace

60 thoughts on “13 Rules For Surviving A Court Appearance”

    1. Take a gun, get the judge followed by as many court officials as you can.
      Works for me.

  1. 14. Say as little as possible, and if things are going your way, just keep your mouth shut.

    1. Amen, the smartest thing a person can do is to not willing contribute to the making of the rope they will hang you with. Why would any sane person help them tie the hangmans noose?

    2. Toronto Police would voluntarily harass your grandmother living in a different city, province or country if a feminist complained on you for trivial reasons. Toronto Police do that especially on men accused of feminist complaints. If the man says nothing, Toronto Police would then psychologically intimidate his relatives in Toronto or even abroad. True story.

    3. Most important rule, that may help you avoid being charged with a crime in the first place. No exceptions.
      Never, ever talk to cops ever unless you are charged and have a lawyer present.

      1. The holy grail of advice. Never cooperate with the police. Don’t make their job any easier.

  2. Just a side note for the British, (compulsory for us Brits to wear suits in court), make sure everything FITS properly, you don’t want to look like someone who only wears a suit for court, it looks quite dodgy when your suit happens to be super baggy.

  3. Nothing makes an ignorant man MORE educated than by making the mistake that they know it all already. You don’t go to an interview ( for what it is worth EVRY interview for any purpose is GOING BEFORE A JUDGE, be it of character, of crime or competence, you are JUDGED)of any type especially for like a home loan, looking like a millennial, gen X, or gen y hipster slob and expect to get the job ( I mean, really?), why would you go the court with anything more expected of you to be apologetic, contrite polite and model citizen if YOU ARE GOING TO BE JUDGED(by any authority, man or higher)?
    Ignorance is the best teacher for the unschooled and unprepared, providing you survive the lesson. Its true in all things in life. I for one would never want to graduate the school of hard knock, jailhouse edition. In reality, every single day DEMANDS that you be aware of your environment and the unspoken rules of survival in that environment, and when you are ignorant to that reality, it will eat you up, spit you out and not give damn about your feelings or life. Be ignorant, pay the price. and yes, it may be really steep and it doesn’t care a whit if you had the best upbringing or life or the worst with missing fathers..Reality demands you buck up or get f**ked up ALL EXCUSES aside.
    this was timely and very smart article. thanks!

    1. The right to remain silent doesn’t apply to falsely accused men in Toronto.

  4. The better rule :
    Tell them that you’re a leftist, an antifa or something like that.
    Freedom guaranteed !!!
    Thanks me later

    1. Bonus points if you’re a female from Oxford University or you are a spokeswoman of #MeToo.

  5. From my experience, don’t take your lawyer’s advice as Gospel. Ask him to back it up with case laws that you can read yourself. Many lawyers are happy to just plead you away. Stand up for yourself even if your lawyer won’t. If you get convicted and go to prison, you have no recourse on appeal or habeus review. Lawyers know how to cover their asses on ineffective assistance of counsel. Verify everything they tell you.

    1. This is certainly true especially if you have a public defender. Ask for the case law supporting recommendation like why they don’t want to go to trial or what your chances there are to suppress evidence. You can access those cases online through any prison or public library. Even if you don’t understand the law, learn how to at least from an amateur prospective, and understand those cases. Unless your case is bound the US Supreme Court (in which you already have nationally known non-profits beating down your door) most of it will turn on one or two appellate rulings in your jurisdiction.
      If your PD sucks then you can always request a new one by presenting a motion to the court. If you can demonstrate their legal strategy is contrary to prevailing case law the judge might give you another one.
      Either way the angle any PD is going to take is a plea bargain. That might not be the worst deal for you if you got caught with a giant sack of drugs and the search was nice and neat. Any PD’s job is to clear their docket as quickly as possible and the ADA’s know that. Just have them push for no jail time as part of the plea. That will be your biggest win.
      If you really want to take it to trial though it is your right to be represented by the PD at least through that process. Don’t expect Perry Mason to show up. The guy is going to bungle through your defense and who know what will happen when it hits the jury. 9/10 times it will come back guilty, but maybe your dice will come up differently. I would just say if you get a reasonable plea bargain, take the deal and walk away a free man. Beats losing a few years of your life to sitting in prison even if you are innocent.

    2. @Jeff
      Remember the PD is being paid by the system that highjacked your ass in the first place. Then again, my brother managed to get a sweet PD who plead him down from 8 years state prison to one year county.

  6. Hey, what a cohencidence. Henry Winkler playing a lawyer looks like Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer.

  7. 1. Shut your mouth. This starts from the moment the police contact you. Unless the nature of the investigation is truly a minor crimes such as you have a burnt joint in the ash tray or were going 10 MPH over the speed limit confessing or talking to a cop isn’t going to help you cause.
    2. If arrested or cited don’t give any more information then required by law. That includes everyone you interact with EXCEPT YOUR LAWYER.
    3. Get a lawyer. If you are sitting in booking you generally have the right to a phone call. That call is going to be recorded. You will probably also only get one. Don’t call your mom or dad. Call a lawyer even if it one out of the yellow pages. Not only will attorney-client privilege attach at that time the lawyer will probably front the money for your bail. If you don’t like him after you get out of jail you can always switch and deal with the financial implications later.
    4. Don’t lie to your lawyer. He is going to know you are lying. These people hear tales spun every day. If you are innocent tell him that. If you were riding around drinking in your car and your friend had a bunch of drugs on him tell him that too. Your lawyer needs all the truthful information he can find out to decide how to proceed.
    5. Understand how you are paying the lawyer. For more routine cases it will probably be a flat dollar amount. For more complex cases it will be hourly. Get an estimate on the charges and have him put it in writing. If you go trial it is going to cost a lot. You should know that amount when balancing a plea bargain.
    6. Even if you are innocent consider a plea bargain or pre-trial deferment. If your lawyer is good he can negotiate your record eventually getting expunged and you will probably avoid jail.
    7. Avoid jail IF POSSIBLE. If you are broke and between residences jail might not sound like a bad deal as opposed to a big fine. Trust me jail is NEVER a good idea. Stay out if at all possible. Take the fine and community service. Tell the judge you need a payment plan (they can’t send you to jail because you are poor). Then make those payments because you miss one, just one, you will have a warrant out for your arrest and the judge isn’t going to be nice come round two.
    8. Realize your case is not the case of the century. Even if you got arrested for something like holding a sign at a protest. You are stuck in the same criminal justice pipeline as a million other people. It is the job of judges, prosecutors, and other court professionals to keep that line moving. Yeah you have your rights, but unless you want your case to languish in the appellate courts for years, no one is going to care. The best thing your lawyer can do is (1) avoid jail time (2) reduces fines as much as possible (3) allow your record to eventually get expunged. Unless you are charged with a serious felony these are all possible if this is your first (or maybe even second time through the system). If you are a hardened criminal though expect to go to jail.
    9. Probably should have put this first, but LISTEN TO YOUR LAWYER. If he tells you to do something then you do it. If he tells you not to hang out with T-Dog until your case is settled. Do it. If he tells you not to do drugs while waiting for a plea bargain. Do it. If he tells you to rat out the guy in the car who actually had the drugs. Do it. (Don’t give me any lip about “codes of honor” your friend B-Money is going to turn you the second he gets if he was facing a year in jail.)
    10. No definitely should have put this one first. The easiest way not to end up in criminal court is to not break the law. And if you are break the law while getting caught do so don’t give the cops cause to heap on additional charges. No you aren’t going to out run the police. No your mad baller driving skills are not going to get you away from the police in that stolen car. Yes the cops will notice you threw drugs out the window. And if you have drugs on you after you get arrested tell the cop. They will find them wherever you stuck them at the jail. It will just avoid an additional charge. Also, never resist arrest. That is just dumb and will guarantee you a trip to jail.

    1. @Jeff
      “Resisting arrest” is VERY subjective and usually falls into the throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. Of course, taking a solid swing at a cop will definitely render a boot print on your face.

      1. Yes it is. I’m just saying that when you hear an order such as “get on the ground” just do it. Or if a cop saying “you are under arrest” trying to cuff you don’t spin around or attempt to run. It is actions like those that make what would be a misdemeanor an additional felony charge. And that is the difference between a nice plea deal and a fat sentence to jail.

        1. They’re still in prison. They’re being charged with mischief because of a lady who mysteriously spies on them next door at their cottage in Kawartha Lakes, but they also moved near to Durham Region Police Chief Paul Martin in the same neighbourhood that these men live (their family home). This is a case of targeted harassment, but why are they doing this for women? Why are the police in Canada trampling on the Constitution for a woman?

        2. The lady somehow moves to the same street in Whitby Ontario, and she acts aggressively when caught in the moment. Canadian women sure are angry at men that they play the victim even when doing road rage.

  8. If you are a woman, all of this advice applies as well, except for the appearance. Similar to the advice for men, try to look as conservative and plain as possible. This is not the time to look sexy, just plain, with only a little bit of makeup and very little jewelry. If possible, make yourself accompanied by not only your lawyer but a man of your trust, like your father, brother, husband or, in lack of those, a close friend. It still goes to the same effect of making you look like an upstanding member of society.
    Try to look, sound, etc as unremarkable as possible and fly under the radar. With a good lawyer, the whole thing should be over soon, depending on what you did

  9. Absolutely excellent article! The dressing well advice is top notch. I always use the “Sunday Best” rule. Truth is the sweat pants and t-shirt crowd just don’t get it. You can tell a man by the cut of his cloth and everything follows the shoes. Unfortunately, most don’t own a suit and have no idea how to even to tie a Windsor knot. Gone are the days when you needed a suit for church, weddings and funerals. Don’t even get me started on the women!!

  10. In Toronto Canada, cops tell you to plead guilty for offending a woman, not your lawyer working for the State!

  11. Fuck that lawyers work for the state and the BAR many times they do not have your best interest even though you are paying them a ton of money. You are coming at this from criminal perspective but their are many times you find yourself in court over civil matters where I wouldn’t recommend an attorney family, domestic, probate, small claims, landlord-tenent etc.

    1. Bullshit. I’ve been a lawyer almost 20 years and I’ve never represented the state, or the feds, or any level of government. My clients have all been either natural persons and corporations. And only nutballs who believe fairy tales about a “British Accredited Registry” write bar as BAR.

      1. Counselor, I’m puzzled by the whole judicial system, and not having much experience with it, 4 years ago, I took a problematic neighbor into municipal court over a small matter. The neighbor is unstable and a loose cannon. During the proceedings, he continuely stepped towards me in a threatening manner, called me childish names, yelled at the judge, and threw documents at the judge. The judge kept telling him “I’ve heard enough”, but the guy persisted. I remained calm, and received a brief few minutes to calmly argue my case. The judge ruled in his favor. It was like a psychiatric ward. I thought a judge could charge such a person with contempt of court, and/or extract them from the courtroom. The neighbor never bothered me again. Any insight into why the municipal court was such a dope show?

  12. The court system is rigged to the core. If you have money and a good lawyer you can get the Jordan ruling in Canada and get your case closed and charges dismissed even if you stole millions or outright murdered someone in cold blood. I don’t have the time now but a little go ogle search will tesitify to all I claim. Meanwhile if you get caught with some weed in the park. You will be prosecuted and punished with a check on your record, hence forfeiting any lucrative jobs in the future. Meanwhile the real criminals get away with the help of the courts. God bless.

  13. I didn’t see any recommendations of knowing your Rights, understanding the courts Rights, or studying up on the Law. Jefferson always warned us that the common man needs to know enough about the Law to protect themselves. The internet is a wonderful tool to self-study and grab a handle on past legal rulings that would work in your favor. Document EVERYTHING. He who accuses without merit or fact shall lose. He who documents often wins.
    Be calm and confident. And never think you can’t request a delay, subpoena witnesses- including untrustworthy cops, digital recordings, anything and everything. It’s your Right.
    Consider a 42USC1983 for any public official who dishonors your Constitutional Rights. Don’t believe that you can sue a corporation or a government- you can’t. But you can sho-nuff sue the crap out of the employee(s). They’re not God, but slimy little bureaucrats who thinks their organization can save them. Uh, no.

    1. Here are your rights – you have none.
      They only exist on paper.
      In reality you only have a “right” if it is somehow recognized by the government.
      Knowing your rights that are on paper is important. Realizing no one in the judicial system might give a darn is another thing. For you to have a right either the cop must care, the prosecutor must care, or a judge (or eventually panel of judges) must care. Truth it these days 90% of them don’t care. These people are all overworked and the criminal justice system pipeline is packed beyond its capacity. You might have the right to a trial and a jury but the fact that the judge is going to spend the next three days doing jury selection and presiding over a trial is just going to make him mad especially if you don’t really have a reasonable case. Then the judge is going to use his discretion to throw you away for as long as he can get away with just so you don’t show up again in court.
      The only right you really have control over is to keep silence. Chances are at least in the US if you keep your mouth shut you won’t get thrown into a small room and beaten until you give up a confession. It is one of the few rights you have that you control by your own actions or inactions. So use it because the police are not your friends and prosecutors and judges are not these fair arbiters of justice as portrayed on television. The less you give them, unless it is strategical, the better off you are in the end.

  14. “pulling trains of drunk Mexicans.”
    I have to say this is not an exaggeration, it is a 100% fact. I know a woman who did exactly this. She divorced her hard-working husband (who is now a millionaire), threw him on the street. She abandoned stability and ended up in abject poverty, and yes got fucked by multiple illegals, getting impregnated by them. She ended up dead and those bastard children ended up complete and total losers.

  15. Or be in a country where you can swing a big stick and hire henchmen to do your “legal work.” 😉
    “In May 1976, Escobar and several of his men were arrested and found in possession of 39 pounds (18 kg) of white paste, attempting to return to Medellín with a heavy load from Ecuador. Initially, Pablo tried to bribe the Medellín judges who were forming a case against him, and was unsuccessful. After many months of legal wrangling, he ordered the murder of the two arresting officers, and the case was later dropped.”
    “It is alleged that Escobar backed the 1985 storming of the Colombian Supreme Court by left-wing guerrillas from the 19th of April Movement, also known as M-19. The siege, which was done in retaliation for the Supreme Court studying the constitutionality of Colombia’s extradition treaty with the U.S., resulted in the murders of half the judges on the court. M-19 were paid to break into the Palace and burn all papers and files on Los Extraditables — a group of cocaine smugglers who were under threat of being extradited to the U.S. by the Colombian government. Escobar was listed as a part of Los Extraditables. Hostages were also taken for negotiation of their release, thus helping to prevent extradition of Los Extraditables to the U.S. for their crimes.”

  16. Normally I agree with most the stuff in the article, but the reality of the situation is the law is determined long before you step foot in the ocurt room. Point being that to get a lawyer is mostly superfluous. Unless you make good money (as in aren’t part of the economic shit storm) AND you did some shit which actually warrant’s a lawyer don’t bother with one. It’s few and far between that hiring a lawyer actually changes your charges. Say you got a DUI or something, if you blew into a breathalyzer it doesn’t matter what story the lawyer spins you + blowing into a device = fine + punishment of some kind. Lawyers are the oldest trick in the book to grab easy high roller / well off peoples money. Lawyers have been around since the dawn of civilization because it’s just an easy buck to make off of you. But with how the court system is setup nowadays UNLESS you committed some weird random ass crime which a lawyer MIGHT be able to squeeze you out of its a waste of money more often than not. Other than that I agree with the basic premise of the article: don’t look like your homeless, at least give the appearance that you have your shit together, be formal, etc. For the normal guys out there (which sadly there are few of it seems) all of this shit is just common sense. At the end of the day where you live will be a big factor in determining how the judge / jury / or executioners perceive you. I always believe that its better to be over-dressed rather than under dressed, but guys that wear suits and ties, meh, its a bit much for an ‘average’ offense of some kind. Suits and ties are WAY formal nowadays. I’m not saying don’t wear one, but if you don’t wear it correctly (as in it actually looks decent and you aren’t swimming in it or its not too tight or something) than don’t bother. Again, a lot of what matters are the ‘normal’ standards in your city or community. Again, its not to say don’t wear a suit and tie, but I say it matters based on your own lot in life. The judge will know your work occupation. I think it comes off strange if you work some odd job and try to pull off a suit and tie. Again, if you CAN rock it, by all means go for it, but in reality, it verges on overly pretentious and if you don’t wear it properly you look like a total clown and it will have the opposite effect. It really depends on your lot in life, but that also doesn’t mean if you work blue collar that you have to dress like a slob or a homeless guy. Common sense goes a lot way. I think judges have more respect for someone whose being ‘real’ (as in normal – not a slob, not a mental nutcase, but not some white collar suit) with them rather than overly trying. I think its a tightrope act honestly. I only wear suits for funerals and weddings. I have a nice fitting jacket and nice nonintrusive tie, but I don’t feel like myself wearing a suit, and I think it shows. It’s like with girls. They can sense when a person is faking it. This doesn’t mean go rogue or even ‘be yourself’ – it simply means be semi-formal. Anyways, is what it is and unfortunately a lot of people don’t give a shit nowadays.

    1. I’d agree. the Pee Wee Herman suit look is not going to go very far with a judge either, just like the unkempt Millennial slob look.

    2. Unless your charge is a minor one you will always want to engage an attorney. You have no friends in the criminal justice system. No one, but your lawyer, is going to look out for your well being. The DA/arresting officer may act all buddy-buddy with you, especially if you are going to provide them a confession or rat out someone. But at the end of the day they don’t represent your interests. They work for the government. Hint: in most states an ambiguous promise such as “if you confess we will work with you to reduce some of these charges” is not enforceable. They can take your information and never drop/reduce the charges against you. A lawyer on the other hand knows how to engage in binding negotiations which will serve your best interests.
      I’ve seen many of “I don’t need a lawyer” types end up in jail for the exact same crime someone on the same day’s docket who does have a lawyer get probation for in the end. If you do not value your freedom at a few thousand dollars don’t let try to convince you otherwise though.

      1. “I’ve seen many of “I don’t need a lawyer” types end up in jail for the exact same crime someone on the same day’s docket who does have a lawyer get probation for in the end. If you do not value your freedom at a few thousand dollars don’t let try to convince you otherwise though.”
        -Not really. It depends on the charge. Thinking you always need a lawyer is a fool’s errand. ‘A few thousand dollars’, what are you Mr. Monopoly over here? Most charges will ONLY run you around ‘a few thousand’ dollars. You end up paying as much for the lawyer as you would the offense. Just what kind of criminal offenses are you talking about here? There’s no quick eays ”get out of jail free card” Mr. Monopoly. Depending on the charge if you’re written a ticket the associated fine or penalty is almost always guarenteed. You’re living in a fantasy world if you think a lawyer’s going to make or break it for you. Not to mention but you MUST be referring to some really fucked up charges if your ok dropping a ‘a few thousand’ dollars on a lawyer. In the real world MOST offenses don’t even cost a few thousand dollars. What kind of fucked up shit are YOU into that you think dropping a few grand makes all the differance?

  17. Other things that will help you in criminal court:
    1. Have a job. I don’t care if it flipping burgers. Have a job and demonstrate your past ability to work. If you are not working keep records about applications you are putting in. If you are convicted this will help you when the probation officer in compiling the sentencing report. The last thing a judge or probation department wants is a criminal with plenty of spare time during the day to be a criminal.
    2. Unless you have a long criminal history or your crime was felony violence of some type your best outcome is probably going to be a plea bargain. If the DA won’t offer you one have your lawyer press him to do so by filing pre-trial motions that will waste his time. Again, if this is only your first or second conviction of mostly misdemeanor type offenses the DA is not going to waste its limited resources throwing the book at you.
    3. You probably aren’t going to go to jail for something like a bar fight, your first DUI, a small amount of drugs, shoplifting, petty theft, etc. But if your crime involves where someone, especially a cop, get seriously hurt then you are probably going to have to do some time. Have you lawyer focus on doing this as in home detention or the least amount of time in a correctional facility. But chances are you are going to spend some time in the slammer.
    4. If you end up in jail, keep your nose clean. Watch who you associate with, the guards will notice. If you hang out with gang bangers your chances are early release are going to get small real quick. But if you spend your hours doing job training programs or taking other classes (they are free so why not) chances are when the prison population numbers get too high you will be one of the first out the door.
    5. Once you have had your criminal card punched once, it is going to be a lot harder to stay out of prison, get minor charges dropped, or have the police ignore the small amount of weed in your glove box. After you serve your sentence keep your nose clean for at least a year. If a sentencing judge doesn’t think you learned your lesson the first time they are surely going to make you learn it a second time around.
    6. Don’t drag your feet through procedure after procedure if you are arrested. Ask your lawyer what is the quickest way to settle the charge while getting you the best deal. 95% of the time this will be a plea bargain and the less work the DA and police have to put into your case the better it is going to be for you. If you indicate early, through your lawyer, that you are looking to get this behind you then you are probably going to get a better then if you wait until just before trial. Plus you get on with your life instead of wasting time sitting around with bail restrictions.
    7. If it looks like the DA will not bargain you out without jail time then your only option to avoid it is to go to trial. Unless you are represented by a PD this is going to be expensive. Also if found guilty the sentencing judge is probably not going to be any more lenient assuming the DA in charge of your case was being reasonable. You may want to think real hard, save the few grand the lawyer will charge you for even a simple bench trial, and take the prison time. Remember, though each state is different, they all have some kind of system for early release. Ask your lawyer the best course of action after you become and inmate to put yourself in that pipeline.
    8. Assuming that you are not a violent felon chances are your lawyer can request a certain amount of time for you to wrap up your affairs before self reporting to jail. Very few convicts get wrestled back into the holding cell after verdict and have bail revoked. Use this time to wrap up employment, end leases, move your stuff into storage, etc. Don’t just let these logistical things slide. You don’t need the double headache of getting out of jail after six months to find your credit ruined and bill collectors pounding down you door. Plus it shows that you are taking the situation seriously at sentencing.
    9. If found guilty, show a little remorse (even if you don’t really have any) unless your lawyer tells you not to because you might also be facing a civil suit. Judges usually have access to a downward departure from sentencing guidelines for remorse and it might save you a few months in the klink or a few hundred off a fine.
    10. Forget about appeals. First your lawyer will be happy to take more money out of you to file one. The problem is few are successful unless your constitutional rights were clearly violated. And, the average processing time usually take about a year in most states. By then you probably have already done your time in jail (bail on appeal is usually hard to get) and any fine money you may get back is just going to pay the legal bill. Your best bet is to negotiate a good plea bargain. If that isn’t in the cards then you need to go to trial and hope the judge catches one of the cops lying his butt off. Then, if found guilty, hope the judge will be more reasonable then the DA. That is it for 99.5% of criminal cases. No team of lawyers is going swoop in to save you unless you are rich or your case is high profile enough to make them famous.
    11. When all is said and done, don’t develop a big beef about the whole thing. Everyone gets screwed in the criminal justice system, even the guy who is found guilty at the end of it all. Unless the police upright framed you by planting guns/drugs chances are you probably did something wrong and just got caught. I think out of the 100+ people I have had tell me they were innocent only 1-2 actually had a believable story. Yeah I am sure there are a handful of innocent people in jail in the US. But chances are you are not one. Become an “f- the police” guy is just going to attract the police. They will get to know you and will do things like (most of the time legally) pull you over just to see if they can find something more then a minor traffic violation.
    12. Hand in hand with #11 think about moving towns or even states if you can do so. It is a good way to get a fresh start and also you won’t be on the local cop’s radar as a “bad guy”. (Your criminal conviction thanks to national databases will still travel with you though but unless you have to register your probation or something similar to the local beat cop you will just be another guy walking down the street).
    Getting involved in the criminal justice system sucks. Nothing about it is going to be fun. So just (1) keep your mouth shut (2) get a lawyer (3) try to get a plea deal that will keep you out of jail. That is the best you can do.

  18. I disagree with the whole “don’t do anything without a lawyer” thing. Many (most?) lawyers are incompetent at what they do, as I’ve learned from long experience. And in any case, they don’t give a rat’s patoot about you, they just want your money.
    Many years ago I was arrested on a misdemeanor DV charge. I consulted a lawyer, as everyone advises. He wanted $1200 (prolly be much more nowadays) – which was two months worth of rent to me! For that sum, he said he’d have me plead “no contest” and I’d get off with no jail time. Just have to do some mandated counseling and probation.
    Problem is, I could have got that same deal at any time from the prosecutor, no lawyer needed (and no $1200 spent!) But I couldn’t accept such a deal, because I’m in a high prestige career and having this on my record would ruin my life.
    So I did what everyone tells you NOT to do. I refused any deals, took it to trial, and represented myself (and I have ZERO training or schooling in the law; my college degree was in engineering). At trial, I dressed sharp. I went full Perry Mason, cross-examining both the arresting officer and my ex-gf. And it went very well. At one point, I even had the judge overrule an objection the prosecutor made to one of my questions!
    Bottom line: the judge was so impressed with my grit and gumption that he dismissed all charges! I call that a big win! (I resumed my high status career, married a red pill woman, had kids, and lived happily ever after)
    In the years since, I have had occasion to consult with lawyers in various civil matters (real estate, family law, etc). They have never failed to impress me with their incompetence at what they do. So again, in a civil matter related to real estate where I was on the hook for about $300k, I handled it myself.
    Result: I did some research and amateur detective work, challenged the collection agency on some procedural grounds, and got the whole thing to go away. Debt wiped out. Didn’t have to pay a penny.
    In a separate case where I owed $50k, I negotiated it down to $10k. Again, I had no lawyer involved, so I wasn’t paying those bloodsuckers an arm and a leg. For example, I once had a lawyer, in a civil matter, ask $700 for writing a one page letter!
    So yeah. Not a big fan of lawyers. Unless I’m on trial for murder or something like that, I will NEVER use one. I have learned this through real world experience. Your mileage may vary.

  19. Great advice. My son had a demonstration of the wisdom contained herein. Ticketed for 85 in a 50, which was way too fast for the ‘traffic class’ to dismiss. A consult with a lawyer beforehand (which he didn’t know about) let me know what he could expect – he got off as good as he could have. I went with him to his court appearance. Haircut, dressed neatly (as noted), and when he was called, he stepped directly to the bench. Unlike all those who’d been called before – many of whom violated at least 4 of the guidelines. “How do you plead?” He did exactly what I told him – he was caught red-handed and he was going to face the consequences. I wasn’t going to bail his ass out. “Guilty, your honor.” (he probably could have pled no contest, but I wanted him to have to say the word guilty to help drive the point home.) The judge was taken aback; everyone else had pled not guilty. She looked at him, then at me, then back at him, then at the arrest report. Then she noted he was a minor, and she noted that he could reschedule to juvie court – and would probably get a few hours of community service. Or … He perked up. Even though the administrative clerks couldn’t offer it on their own, the judge asked if he’d rather take traffic school to dismiss. “Yes, your Honor.” And with that, it was over. On the way home, he was rather quiet, and then noted that he probably wouldn’t have gotten that option if he’d have been dressed like practically everyone else. Lesson learned by him.
    Real-life court is not like TV. It’s not a time for theatrics on your part.

  20. Forgot to add this. On the civil case relating to real estate that I mentioned (where I ended up on the hook for $300k) I DID retain a “reputable” real estate attorney in my area. I paid him a monthly fee for 2 years as the case went forward, and he didn’t do schit. Unless you count cashing my checks.
    In the end, after he was no longer representing me, my property was foreclosed, and I was being sued by a collection agency for $300k, it was I myself who found that the foreclosing party had never had the correct paperwork to proceed. My lawyer hadn’t caught it because all he wanted was my monthly retiner, and didn’t give a crap about me or my case. I was just a number to him, just a monthly check.
    So, I consulted with another real estate lawyer about the possible deficiency decree. He would have been happy to take my money and “represent” me. At our consult, I asked how I would be affected by the change in the statute of limitations on deficiency decrees in our state (that had recently been signed into law by the governor). He answered by asking “What new law?” Yet he was trying to sell me on hiring him for his “expertise”! Needless to say, I snapped my checkbook shut and hightailed it out of there.
    I pursued the matter myself with the collection agency. I sent them copies of the court papers they had filed, pointed out the missing required paperwork, and told them to get back to me when they had them (I knew they didn’t have them, and if they tried forging them I would sue the pants off them…and hopefully get them charged criminally as well, for perpetrating a fraud on the courts).
    Never heard back from them after that, and a year later the statute of limitations for them to file a suit against me expired. Meaning, I’m off the hook scott-free (they later sent me a form confirming the entire debt was forgiven). Just like I was in my criminal case of misdemeanor DV, when I also went unrepresented by some crooked attorney, and I got the charges dismissed at trial.
    Guys, these are actual experiences I’m telling you. Lawyers are flat-out incompetent (most of them, anyways). Depend on one at your own risk. You are far better off doing it yourself, because you at least care about what happens to you! Your lawyer could care less. You are just a number and a meal ticket to them. Therefore, they will put in minimal to no effort on your case.
    P.S. I lol’d at the downvotes on my prior comment. Some lawyers reading this, no doubt, and don’t want word to get out to upset their gravy train. Well, they’ll never get another penny out of me, that’s for sure! YMMV

  21. A few years ago I had some business with a high dollar patent law firm. After we got into the deal, that is after I had paid them several multi thousand dollar draws towards the project, I was presented with an invoice for services that I thought was very excessive. The managing partner and I agreed to meet in his office at 8am to talk about it. I arrived a few minutes early and the receptionist told me to take a seat and wait because they were about to have the morning meeting. I moved to the sofa in the corner out of the way partially hidden by a large leafed plant. In a minute or two fifteen lawyers in suits walked in and formed up circle. No one saw me. In another minute or so the managing partner stomped into the center. Here is what he said:
    “Goddamn you bastards. Find us someone to sue.”
    He turned and left the room first and the rest of the suits sulked back to their desks.
    These eight words were delivered with such vitriol and hatred that I thought they had been channeled from hell.
    According to some sources, the business of lawsuits is the largest industry in America. America has more lawyers than the rest of the planet combined. There is an old video clip of Donald Trump speaking to the subject. In it, as I recall, he states that he is sued at least once a day every day of the year and has been for most of his adult life. He states that these are all frivolous suits and that he has to pay ten thousand dollars each to get them dismissed.
    So … what is a lawsuit?
    Here in the USA, in the year 1820, the owners of the government statutorily entitled the lawyers to feed on the population with a supreme court ruling that goes like this:
    *A wrongfully sued defendant has no recourse upon the plaintiff because to allow such would tend to deny a poor man his day in court.*
    The majority opinion was written by John Jay Marshall, appointed by John Adams himself. This momentous decision comes from the famous Marshal Court.
    Does anyone remember the Korean dry cleaner family and the judges $60 MILLION pair of pants? The Korean’s legal bill was $300 THOUSAND and the case lasted nine years. Their lawyer, making light of the matter held a press conference at the end of the last appeal where he stated for all to hear: *See, the system works.*
    America is also dying from lawsuit exhaustion.
    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, and the situation in present day America for the normal working man is absolutely hopeless.
    The largest and most negative drain on the working people of America would end if this one supreme court decision could be overturned…
    For the love of God Mr. Trump … cause this supreme court decision to be overturned or amended to require the grounds for the suit to go to a grand jury before wrecking the lives of the defendant and his family on the word of a miscreant.

  22. Yep. Wasn’t there a Shakespeare quote that went something like, “First, we kill all the lawyers”…or something like that?
    To reiterate. When I was charged with a misdemeanor DV charge: (will happen to many of you reading this)
    Choosing a lawyer to defend me meant $1200 out of my own pocket, a plea of No Contest (basically means guilty), required probation and DV counseling, and a resulting criminal record that would devastate my career. Thank God I was smart enough to say “No thanks.”
    Choosing no lawyer, go to trial and represent myself (which I did) resulted in me giving my money to no one, and getting the charges dismissed. No effect on my life or career.
    Guys, choose wisely. Lawyers are a scam. Go it alone and you’ll be much better off. I’ve learned that over and over again in my lifetime, and this is regarding both civil and criminal situations.
    If you need a lawyer to file a will or something, shop around and hire one a la carte. Pay him a set fee to do that one thing. That’s it. Don’t be a sucker.

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