Going to court for any matter is an uncomfortable and often stressful experience. If you are facing charges that are to be dealt with at a District Court it is a good idea to be as well prepared as possible. District courts generally deal with more serious criminal cases and appeals against local court decisions, so it is highly advisable to have legal representation.
Here are a few things you can do to help ensure you are as prepared as possible before your court appearance.
Get legal advice
If possible, speak to a lawyer about your matter before the day of your hearing. If you don’t already have a lawyer to represent you, it is a good idea to find one as early as you can so that you can prepare the strongest possible case in your defence. At the very least it is a good idea to get some advice, and there are a number of free legal advocacy and advice services around if cost is an issue.
Book an interpreter
District courts have an interpreter service for those who need it, but if you need an interpreter you will have to book ahead. Make sure you call early to check availability and let the court know that you will be requiring the services of an interpreter.
Familiarise yourself with the process
District court trials often involve a number of different people, and knowing who is who and what order everything happens in can help you feel more confident and less overwhelmed. There will probably be a number of jurors in the courtroom, as well as your lawyer and the lawyer for the prosecution.
Gather all your documentation
When you turn up to your court appearance, make sure you have everything relating to your case with you. This may include copies of medical records, tests, reports and any statements from witnesses or character references that might be relevant to your case. You will need to bring your Court Attendance Notice with you, along with your identification.
Write down the details of the case
You will probably be questioned as part of a district court trial, and it is easy to feel under pressure when you have a courtroom full of people looking at you. It is a good idea to write down the details of the event that led to your criminal charges so you can refer to them before you go on the witness stand. This might help keep it clearer in your mind, and mean that you are less likely to make a mistake when recounting events.
Plan how you will get there
Appearing at court is stressful enough without having to worry about being late or getting lost.
Before your court date, make sure you have planned how you will get to court and allowed extra time for delays. If you don’t turn up at the specified time you could end up in further legal trouble. Being late could be considered to be in breach of your bail conditions, so it is important that you are there on time.
Courts don’t always run on time, so be prepared to wait for a while and make sure you have allowed enough time and made arrangements for childcare or other commitments in case there are delays.
Being prepared for an appearance at the District Court can help you feel more confident and help ensure that everything goes smoothly and you get the most positive outcome possible from your legal matter.