Going to court can be scary and overwhelming, especially if it's your first time. I often forget that most people don't go to criminal court very often, and many others have never been to a criminal court. When you go to a criminal court in Arizona, or anywhere for that matter, there will be several people that you will encounter. The three groups of people each have a crucial role in serving.
- Every courtroom has a judge. The Judge is in charge of running the courtroom docket for their courtroom. The Judge may or may not instruct people where to sit in the courtroom. Some courtrooms have rules for victims and their families to sit on one side of the courtroom.
- When you walk into a courtroom, always look for signs that tell you where to sit. Sometimes there will be no signs. Sometimes the Judge will call you up to talk to them. This is often scary and intimidating for people. Still, most judges I have worked with would bend over backward to be friendly, polite, and welcoming to people in their courtrooms.
- Remember to be polite and respectful to the Judge. I am always amazed when I see people approach to speak to the Judge and be rude or try talking over the Judge. Remember, it was not the Judge who charged you with a crime.
- The Judge can't decide which cases are brought forward and which are dismissed; this is the prosecutor's role. The Judge is there to ensure the rules are followed and everyone does what they are supposed to.
- Every courthouse is a bit different. In some courthouses, a prosecutor sits in the courtroom and talks to defendants from there. Some courthouses will have a separate office next to the courtroom where the prosecutor sits and calls people to speak to them. Other times, the prosecutor stays in their office outside the courtroom and is called by the court when ready.
- If you are representing yourself, you will speak to the prosecutor at some point during your case. The prosecutor will give you your options and help explain the process.
- It is important to remember that the prosecutor is not on your side and can't give you legal advice. If you ask the prosecutor what you should do, they will tell you that they can't give you legal advice. If you have retained defense counsel, they will speak to the prosecutor on your behalf.
- Every criminal courthouse will have defense lawyers. Some of the lawyers will be private, while some will be court appointed. The court-appointed lawyers may be full-time public defenders, while some may have part-time contracts with that specific court.
- If you go to court and are looking for a lawyer to hire, you can ask a defense lawyer about retaining them for legal counsel. Every lawyer sets their prices and can tell you what they would charge to represent you. Some lawyers charge a flat fee, while others charge hourly.
If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime, we understand how stressful it can be. The most important step you can take right now is to consult an experienced attorney with extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system. If you choose to work with our firm, you will always have direct access to your attorney and will work with one of Arizona's most knowledgeable criminal attorneys.
Our firm serves the areas of Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Chandler, and other locations around Arizona. If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime in Arizona, please get in touch with us today to schedule your free consultation.