No matter the reason you’ll need to visit your local courthouse, there are a few things to know.
First, you’ll need to pass through a security screening to get inside the building, including a metal detector. Your belongings will need to go through an XRay machine. This means that you won’t be able to take anything that resembles a weapon with you, but you also won’t be able to take any electronic devices like cell phones, handheld video games, or Kindles.
If you’re visiting the courthouse to file papers, you’ll need to have all of the requisite documents with you. More than likely, you’ll be looking for the clerk’s office. A bailiff can direct you to the area that you need and show you where to wait.
If you’ll be a witness or are there for charges that have been brought against you in family or magistrates court, you’ll need to determine which courtroom you’ll be in. The bailiffs can also help you with this task and lead you to the waiting areas.
Individuals attending events at the courthouse will need to be dressed appropriately. For men, this typically means clean pants and a shirt, as well as a jacket and tie if they’ll be going before a judge. For women, this means slacks and a dress shirt, or possibly a dress. It’s important to be well groomed and to make a good impression when you’re in the courtroom. Your goal is to avoid standing out, while demonstrating that you’re capable of caring for your appearance in a professional manner. Avoid glaring hair colors, piercings, rude t-shirts, and other appearance modifications that might make you stand out in a negative way to the judge, jury, or the other party’s attorney.
If you have small children and need to go to local court, find a babysitter for them unless they need to be present as a witness for the trial. Otherwise they may disrupt the proceedings. There is no childcare at the courthouse for them, and they will simply be in the way and require extra time and attention.
No one wants to need to go to the courthouse, but if you need to, it’s important to be well prepared. Spend some time and energy to arrange for childcare, purchase the correct clothing, and plan to be in the right place at the right time, so you can make the best possible impression.