You were recently charged with a crime, and your first court date is coming up fast. You intended to hire an attorney, but haven’t been able to do so yet—either because of time or money or you just haven’t picked which one.
How should you handle your first court date?
Many people come to court at some point without an attorney. In most cases, the judge will require you to come back with someone. Playing your own lawyer may make exciting TV drama, but in most cases, the judge will not allow it. If you are truly indigent, you may be entitled to the public defender. Otherwise, you must hire your own private counsel.
If you don’t have an attorney on your first court date, you must still appear. Some courtrooms will allow a defendant to check in with the court clerk to have your case called sooner. Most courtrooms, however, do not allow this practice and require you to wait until your turn on the docket. By Supreme Court rule, defendants with private attorneys are called first.
Once your case is called, answer “here” and step up before the bench. Explain to the judge that you will be hiring your own attorney and politely request a continuance. The judge should give you a new court date. It is best if you have an attorney by this second court date or you may try the judge’s patience.
When attending court, be sure to appear on time even though you may have to wait. You should dress in clean, pressed, conservative clothing.
If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)