Here are some hints on appearing in court:
Dress professionally in clean clothes.
Do not wear message shirts.
Don't chew gum, smoke, or eat. (Smokers...pot or tobacco...literally stink. Remember that before you head for court.)
Bathe and wash your hair.
Do not bring small children or your friends.
Go to court beforehand some day before you actually have to go to watch how things go.
Speak politely and deferentially. If you argue or dispute something, do it professionally and without emotion.
Ask the court clerk who you talk to about a diversion (meaning you want to plead to a different, lesser charge), if applicable in your situation. Ask about traffic school and that the ticket not go on your record, if applicable. Ask also about getting a hardship driving permit, if applicable. Ask about drug court, if applicable.
You forgot the one thing that I've seen that seems to frizz up most judges these days:
If you have a cell phone, make DAMN SURE that it doesn't make ANY noise in the courtroom. This means when you are talking to the judge AND when you are simply sitting in the court room.
If you have a ‘vibrate’ position on your cell phone, MAKE sure the judge DOESN'T EVEN HEAR IT VIBRATE!
Turn it off or put it in silent mode where it flashes a LED if it rings. AND DON'T even DREAM about answering it if it rings.”
(Better yet, don’t carry your cell phone into the courtroom.)”
Here are six stories that criminal court judges hear the most (and I suggest you do not use them or variations of them):
1. I’ve been saved! (This is not religion specific; folks from all kinds of religious backgrounds use this one.)
2. My girlfriend/mother/sister/daughter/wife/ex-wife/niece/grandma/grand-daughter is pregnant/sick/dying/dead/crippled/crazy and needs my help.
3. I’ve got a job/military posting in [name a place five hundred miles away].
4. This is the first time I ever did this. (This conflicts with number 5 below, but that hasn’t stopped some defendants from using both.)
5. You’ve got the wrong guy. (A variation of this one is the phantom defendant story: “It wasn’t me driving, it was a hitchhiker I picked up. He wrecked the car, drug me behind the wheel then took off.” Or, another variation: “I was forced into it by a bad guy!”)
6. I was influenced by a bad crowd.
Public defender’s advice
Other people may give you other advice; stand by.
There are two rules for success:
(1) Never tell everything you know.