Tips for Your Initial Appearance Before You Hire a Delaware Criminal Defense Attorney
Once you have been arrested and detained by police, you will be taken before the court for an initial appearance as governed by Delaware’s Rules of Criminal Procedure. This hearing is an important one, since the judge will read the official charges in court and set bail so that you can be released pending your trial date. This initial appearance must occur within 24 hours of your arrest, though the time constraints are somewhat relaxed if you were arrested on a weekend.
Because of the short turnaround time, you could find yourself in a difficult position during your initial appearance: You would like to retain a Delaware criminal defense attorney, but you have not been in touch with one for a consultation. Though it is a mistake to represent yourself, you can get through this proceeding with a few tips on moving things forward with your rights intact.
Dress Professionally: First impressions matter to judges, so make sure you are presenting yourself in the best possible light. Dress as you would for a job interview, important meeting, or other professional occasion. A business suit is always appropriate, but tidy slacks, skirt, and buttoned shirt will also suffice.
Get to Court Early: Allow plenty of time to travel to the courthouse and park, since you will also need to go through security and locate the right courtroom. Tardiness will work against you no matter how well you are dressed, so do not make the wrong impression by being late. Arrive at least 30 minutes before your court time in case you run into delays.
Check in with the Court Clerk: When you enter the courtroom, try to locate the court clerk seated somewhere near the judge’s bench. This person will be checking in defendants, confirming case details, and related administrative tasks. Get your documentation ready for the clerk to review, but do not expect any legal advice. The clerk is not an attorney and cannot counsel you.
Pay Attention Before Your Case is Called: You will be sitting in the gallery while waiting for your case to be called, so closely observe the proceedings in other cases. Many defendants are also present for initial appearances – with their lawyers or a public defender – so you will have an idea about what to do.
Ask the Judge for More Time. When the clerk calls your case, wait until the judge addresses you. Then, ask that you be allowed time to retain a criminal defense attorney. Depending on the details of the offense, a judge will entertain a reasonable request.
Contact a Delaware Criminal Defense Lawyer Right Away
It is doubtful that you will get more time at a hearing after this initial appearance, so you need to reach out to skilled legal counsel as soon as possible. To ensure you have an experienced lawyer at your side for the next stages of the criminal process, please contact Wilmington criminal lawyer Michael W. Modica at 302.600.1262 or via our website.