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Sometimes, obtaining a lawyer for a traffic ticket means you don’t have to appear in court. Sometimes, even with a lawyer, you do have to appear. Courtroom impressions can go a long way to help or hinder your case. However, there are steps you can take to improve your chances in front of a judge.

Courtroom Impressions: What You Should (& Shouldn’t) Do

What You Should Do:

Be Respectful

Being respectful is a simple way to give good first courtroom impressions. Before it is your turn, you should pay attention to other cases. It’s not a good sign if the judge is bothered by your behavior before it’s your turn. Remain quiet and patient while waiting for your case to be heard.​

Turn Off Your Phone

Some courthouses do not even allow phones past security. For those that do, make sure your phone is off before entering the courtroom. You can ensure good courtroom impressions by not distracting the judge or others with a ringing cellphone during court proceedings.

Dress to Impress

For some it may be obvious to wear proper clothes to court. However, some might not think about it. In addition to the “look good, feel good” mantra that many abide by, dressing in a business casual manner shows you care about the courtroom impressions you make.

What You Shouldn’t Do:

Argue with an Officer

If you have an issue with the behavior of the officer who gave the ticket, do not go in looking for an argument. Arguing can be disrespectful to the officer, the judge, and the court in general. In addition to being respectful, leave the arguing to another day. Courtroom impressions make all the difference when hoping for a reduction.

Ask to Leave

When going to court, you should be prepared to be there for a while. Asking how long it will take or when you can leave will give the judge and other bad courtroom impressions of you. This will make it harder for a dismissal or lessened ticket.

Chew Gum

Sounds simple, but chewing gum can be a giant distraction in the courtroom. For some it might be a nervous habit. Leave the gum out of it and earn the positive courtroom impressions you deserve.