Skip to Main Content

How to Act in Court

Houston DWI cases are decided on evidence, specifically proof that you were legally intoxicated when driving a motor vehicle in public. But DWI defendants are also judged as soon as they walk into the courtroom, and first impressions make a big difference. A judge will rely on their impressions when deciding pretrial motions, like a motion to suppress or a bail hearing, as well as when deciding how to sentence you (should you be convicted). Your appearance also matters a great deal to the jury.

Tad Nelson is a Board-Certified criminal defense lawyer with hundreds of DWI cases under his belt. He advises clients about how to appear in court and shares his best tips in this article. Call our law firm to speak with an experienced Houston DWI lawyer.

What to Wear

Many people head to court for a hearing right from work, so they might not have time to change. However, we strongly recommend following these tips:

  • Wear the best clothes that you have. Dress pants are better than jeans, and jeans are better than shorts.
  • Wear a shirt with a collar instead of a T-shirt. If you wear a T-shirt, make sure it is solid color and doesn’t have offensive messages.
  • Whatever you wear, make sure it is clean.
  • Wear the best shoes that you have, along with socks.
  • Cover up any tattoos. This might mean wearing a long-sleeve shirt, even in the summer, to hide arm tattoos.
  • Avoid clothing that is too distracting. Huge hoop earrings or clanging bracelets are a distraction to the eye and ear. Whatever you do, don’t wear heavy cologne or perfume.

How to Act

You will also be judged on your actions from the moment you enter the courthouse. We recommend:

  • Get there on time. In fact, show up early.
  • Turn your phone off—not mute, but off—before you go into the courthouse. You absolutely cannot take a phone call in the courtroom, and it’s bad enough if the phone rings.
  • Go to the bathroom before stepping into the courtroom.
  • Wait patiently for your case to be called. Do not talk loudly.
  • Thank anyone who helps you, like a police officer or a clerk. Always be polite to the prosecution, too.

You absolutely cannot drink alcohol before going into court. If the judge smells alcohol on your breath, you’re in a huge hole.

How to Speak to a Judge

Speaking to a judge requires careful consideration. The great thing about hiring a lawyer is your lawyer will speak for you. In the event you need to talk, remember to:

  • Speak clearly and slowly.
  • Never talk over a judge. If the judge cuts you off, stop talking immediately.
  • Only ever say, “Your Honor” if you are addressing a judge. Don’t say “Judge Mathis” or anything like that.
  • If you didn’t hear a question, ask them to please repeat it.

Let Us Advocate for You

Tad Nelson has other tips for DWI defendants which can help strengthen your odds of receiving a favorable outcome. Call our firm at your earliest convenience.