Your Guide to GOING TO COURT

Your Guide to GOING TO COURT GRAPHICGoing to court can be a frightening experience. It is important to remember that the purpose of a hearing is to give the judge or the jury enough information to make a fair decision. There are a few things you can do to help make a good first impression on the judge or the jury, possibly making you more believable.


Going to court is a formal occasion. How you present yourself is important.

You should be clean and neat.

Dress conservatively. Wear subdued colors.

Men should wear dress pants and shirts if possible. A tie is not necessary, but definitely helps.

Women should wear a nice dress, skirt, or dress pants. Do not wear short skirts—more than 2 inches above the knee. It is best to wear neutral colored pantyhose.

Jeans are acceptable, IF they are clean and fairly new.

Do not wear pants that fall below your underwear.

Shirts should be clean and fit properly. Do not wear shirts that show any part of your belly or your cleavage.

Do not wear anything referring to sex, violence, cigarettes, drugs or alcohol or anything with a swear word on it.

Do not wear hooded sweatshirts, tank tops, pajamas, or shorts.

Avoid heavy makeup.

Do not wear a hat.

Do not wear anything with holes or patches.

Do not wear flip-flops or untied sneakers/shoes.

It is better not to wear any facial piercings or show your tattoos. If your tattoo has any naked body parts, swear words, drug or alcohol references or violence, make sure it is covered.

Your hair should be clean, combed and trimmed. Men, long hair should be tied back.

Be sure your hands and fingernails are clean.

Don’t bathe yourself in perfume or cologne.

Nail Polish—keep it simple.

Jewelry– wear minimal amounts such as a watch and one ring.


Make sure you know where to go and when to be there. It is a good idea to get there a few minutes early. Be sure to allow time to find parking.


Your attorney should review your testimony with you before the hearing. Make sure you tell your attorney everything. Even if you think it is not important. It is better for your attorney to know ahead of time.


A hearing is a serious matter. You should act serious, but calm. Do not swear, laugh and talk in the courtroom or outside before the hearing. Also, although you may be upset and angry, do not raise your voice in the courtroom or anywhere in the courthouse.

Never chew gum or smoke in the court house. Avoid annoying behaviors, such as cracking your knuckles, biting your nails.

Always address the judge as  “your honor” or “sir” or “ma’am.” Be polite and courteous to all court personnel.


The Hearing graphicListen to all the questions carefully. If you do not understand the question, say so. Answer only the question that was asked, do not volunteer information. However, you can explain an answer, if the question cannot be answered truthfully with a yes or no answer.

If there is an “objection” stop talking. Wait for the judge to rule on the objection. If the objection is “sustained,” you may not answer the question. If it is “overruled,” you should answer the question. You can ask for the question to be repeated.

Speak clearly and loudly. It is extremely important the judge or jury be able to hear you. Speak slowly. Do not nod or shake your head, but answer with a yes or no. Avoid slang or street language.

Do not guess. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so. If you cannot remember, say so.

Do not give your opinion. You need only tell what you saw. You usually should not volunteer your opinion of the facts. The judge wants the facts.

Stay Calm in Court GraphicStay calm and polite. Do not become angry even if the attorney is deliberately insulting you. Never argue with the attorney or the judge. Sometimes, the story you are telling is very upsetting. Try to remain calm and controlled. It is important for the story to be told. Do not refuse to answer questions. Your attorney will object if there is an improper question.

Try not to be nervous. You can only tell your story. After that it is up the judge or jury to make the decision.

Finally and most importantly, tell the truth. Even a little lie can make the judge or jury not believe you. Make sure you have told your attorney the good, the bad and the ugly before the hearing.

Download Your Guide to GOING TO COURT

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MidPenn Legal Services serves Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Centre, Clearfield, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, Schuylkill and York counties.

Last Review and Update: Nov 06, 2023
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