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Articles by Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer Carolyn Agin Schmidt

Do: Show up on time. This means that you should arrive a few minutes early so that if anything happens on your way, you still have time. It is also good to find the courthouse ahead of time so that you do not get lost.

Do: Dress appropriately. You want to look conservative, but professional. Don’t wear anything flashy or unnecessary. This applies to your hair, makeup, and accessories too.

Do: Turn off your electronics. There is nothing worse than a phone going off in the middle of your hearing. It is disrespectful and distracting. Turn off all of your devices.

Do: Stay off of social media. If you are being accused of a crime, you should not post any of the details about your case online. This could be used against you in court.

Do: Listen to your lawyer's suggestions. Your lawyer has a duty to have your best interest in mind. Trust their judgment in order to get the best results.

Do: Use your best manners. Please and thank you can go a long way. Also, avoid interrupting others. Create a good rapport during the case so that you will gain the rooms respect.

Do: Reveal all aspects of your case to your attorney before the trial. You should not have any “skeletons in your closet” as some say. Your lawyer should know all of the details pertaining to your case so that they can come up with a defense. If it comes out in the middle of the trial, they will not be as equipped to help you.

Do: Review the details of your case before arrival.  You should know each and every detail of your case so that you do not seem wary. If you are unsure of something, talk to your lawyer beforehand.

Do: Seem engaged during the entire process. Avoid things like leaning back in your chair, crossing your arms, or yawning. These gestures can portray that you are bored, cocky, or do not care.

Do: Address the court by their respective titles: Use “your honor” to address the judge and “Mr. Bailiff” to talk to the bailiff. This shows your respect.

Do: State the facts. The judge and jury are only interested in the facts and will come to their own conclusion. Do not include your opinions in your statements.

Don’t: Wear anything with logos. Keep your clothing non-controversial. Stay away from brand names or articles that reveal any beliefs.

Don’t: Blurt out answers. Think carefully about the question before you give an answer. Although you do not want to overthink, you do not want to blurt out an answer that is not true or complete. It could change the jury's perception even if the answer is corrected later on.

Don’t: Use gestures to tell your story. Keep your hands folded in your lap while you are talking. This signals that you are calm and doesn’t create a distraction.

Don’t: Miss any steps in the process. Your criminal defense lawyer will play a key role in this tip. They will be able to make sure you are informed about all of the steps necessary. Just make sure you follow through.

Don’t: Wait until last minute to prepare. You should be involved during the entire process. Do not wait until the hour before to look through your case. This will make you look unorganized and the court will be able to tell.

Don’t: Leave anything unsaid before the trial. Your lawyer needs to know every detail of your case as soon as possible so that they can come up with the best defense. Don’t wait until the court date to reveal information.

Don’t: Contact the other party without approval. In criminal cases, it is common to want to contact the other party. If you do this without your lawyer's approval, you may say something that could hurt your case. Always consult your attorney before taking action.

Don’t: Swear or get too emotional. You want to seem well kept and smooth under pressure. This keeps the appearance that you are not guilty and have everything put together. Talk through all of the details many times beforehand so that you are well prepared. This will help you keep emotions under wraps.

Don’t: Think that you are out of sight. Do not go somewhere like the bathroom at the courthouse and think that you are in a safe zone. You still need to act professional and follow protocol. You never know who is in the stall next to you.

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