What Should I Expect When I Go To Court on a Criminal Case?
Going to court for the first time can be a scary process. If you have limited exposure to the criminal justice system, you likely have no idea what to expect. Taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the process will help you feel more at ease when your first court date arrives.
What time should I be in Court?
There are few things worse than getting off to a bad start in court. As our client, you will receive notice of all court settings through the Client Portal. As you plan your trip to court, keep in mind that parking in the downtown area can be hectic. The first step you can take toward a positive experience is to allow plenty of time to arrive. Besides parking, you will have to make it through security, and make it up to your courtroom. The elevators are usually packed and it may take 5-10 minutes to get an elevator. Stairs are located on the east side of the building.
The time on your court notice is the time you are expected to be present in the courtroom, not parking or walking into the courthouse. A good rule of thumb is to take your court appearance time, and plan to arrive in the downtown area forty-five minutes before. This will give you the opportunity to not only park and walk to the building, but go through security, and arrive at the correct floor and courtroom.
There are twenty criminal courtrooms in the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center. You will need to make sure that you know which court your case is filed in. If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense, you are assigned to a COUNTY court. All of the Misdemeanor courts being with CCC (County Criminal Court) and then have a number 1-10. If you are charged with a felony offense, you are assigned to a DISTRICT court.
|County Criminal Court Number One||CCC1||5th Floor||Judge David Cook||817-884-1337|
|County Criminal Court Number Two||CCC2||6th Floor||Judge Carey Walker||817-884-1340|
|County Criminal Court Number Three||CCC3||7th Floor||Judge Bob McCoy||817-884-2935|
|County Criminal Court Number Four||CCC4||5th Floor||Judge Deborah Nekhom||817-884-2055|
|County Criminal Court Number Five||CCC5||6th Floor||Judge Jaime Cummings||817-884-2727|
|County Criminal Court Number Six||CCC6||8th Floor||Judge Molly Jones||817-884-2747|
|County Criminal Court Number Seven||CCC7||8th Floor||Judge Cheril Hardy||817-884-2969|
|County Criminal Court Number Eight||CCC8||7th Floor||Judge Charles Vanover||817-884-3403|
|County Criminal Court Number Nine||CCC9||8th Floor||Judge Brent Carr||817-884-3410|
|County Criminal Court Number Ten||CCC10||6th Floor||Judge Phil Sorrels||817-884-3423|
|Criminal District Court Number One||CDC1||5th Floor||Judge Elizabeth Beach||817-884-1351|
|Criminal District Court Number Two||CDC2||6th Floor||Judge Wayne Salvant||817-884-1976|
|Criminal District Court Number Three||CDC3||7th Floor||Judge Robb Catalano||817-884-1252|
|Criminal District Court Number Four||CDC4||8th Floor||Judge Mike Thomas||817-884-1230|
|213th District Court||213th||5th Floor||Judge Louis Sturns||817-884-1977|
|297th District Court||297th||5th Floor||Judge David Hagarman||817-884-1256|
|371st District Court||371st||5th Floor||Judge Mollee Westfall||817-884-2989|
|372nd District Court||372nd||6th Floor||Judge Scott Wisch||817-884-2995|
|396th District Court||396th||6th Floor||Judge George Gallagher||817-884-2765|
|432nd District Court||432nd||6th Floor||Judge Ruben Gonzalez||817-884-2330|
What happens when I get to my courtroom?
When you arrive outside of your assigned courtroom, if it is unlocked go inside and check in with the bailiff. However, if you are early, the courtroom will likely be closed and you will need to wait outside on the benches. Once you are allowed into the courtroom, the bailiffs will give you instructions as to whether you should check in with them, or have a seat and wait for the judge to formally call the docket. Docket call is the court “taking attendance” to make sure that all of the defendants scheduled to be there are present. If the bailiff or judge calls the docket, be sure to answer out loud. You want to make sure that the court knows that you are present, otherwise a warrant can be issued for your arrest.
How long will I have to wait?
The average docket in Tarrant County can last two to three hours, depending on the volume of cases called. The bulk of your time in court may be spent waiting. Your attorney may be in the building but expected in front of another judge before coming to yours. The judges understand this and have a hierarchy for attorneys to appear in courts. Attorneys must appear in felony courts first, and then make any misdemeanor appearances they may have.
What happens when my attorney arrives?
When your attorney arrives, he or she will speak to the prosecutor on your behalf. It is extremely rare for a judge to speak to an individual charged other than at a plea setting. Criminal defendants also almost never speak directly to the prosecutor. Your most important tasks are being in court on time and communicating with your attorney.
Most cases in Tarrant County take about a year to be resolved. At Varghese Summersett PLLC, we generally resolve cases in a month to three months. For further information on our unique approach to criminal cases, call us at (817) 203-2220.
Being informed and having realistic expectations will help make the process of handling your case less stressful. If you arrive on time, are prepared to be patient, and maintain good communication with your attorney, you will have taken significant steps toward having a productive day in court.