Will I have to go to court?
So there’s a long answer and a short answer to that question.
The short answer is that if you have an attorney before your first court date, which is called “plea day” or “arraignment,” you will not have to be present, and that applies to a misdemeanor or felony case. Where it gets a little bit more complicated is the court dates that come after the first one, so lets pick it up with misdemeanor cases.
On a misdemeanor case, you’re going to have what’s called a “pretrial conference.” As long as you sign a form called a “waiver of appearance” that authorizes us to go to court for you, you will not have to come back or appear at the pretrial conference. The next court date that comes after the pretrial is called “jury trial review.” At the jury trial review, what’s going to happen is the case is either going to get dismissed, it’s going to get set for trial, or a plea agreement is going to be entered into. If you’re a local client, I would suggest that, if at all possible, you go to the jury trial review with me, and the reason I say that is because a lot of the times at that court appearance, good things can happen with your case. A lot of times the state will offer reduced charges because they don’t want to go to trial, so it’s in your best interest if at all possible to go to that court date with me, but if you can’t be there or you live out of state, we can certainly appear at that court date for you.
On felony cases, it’s a little bit different. So you’re going to have a court date after the plea day called a “pretrial conference.” If you have an attorney, you will not have to be present at the pretrial conference. The next court date that comes after pretrial is called “docket day.” The difference in felony cases with docket day is that you have to be present regardless of whether you live out of state or you live here locally, and what is going to happen at docket day is that your case is either going to enter into a plea agreement, it’s going to get set for trial, or it’s going to get dismissed. Again, I can’t stress this enough, you have to be present at docket day unless you are specifically excused by the court or your attorney.
If you have a court date coming up, give me a call. We can give you some answers. We can give you an assessment about where you stand with your case, and no matter where you’re at in the process, we can always jump in and get you the help that you need.