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Tom Pugh Oct. 3, 2021

This blog does not cover representing yourself in a trial. That is too complex to offer tips in a single blog. This blog is about small criminal matters, for misdemeanors and traffic tickets. If you decide to go to criminal court without an attorney in Kentucky, you need to plan for a few things:

  • Wear nice clothes. If you look like an idiot, they court will treat you like an idiot. Wear a suit, or a button down shirt with slacks, or whatever you wear to church or a job interview. If you wear a t shirt and shorts, don’t expect much, and we advise against that. Doesn’t matter if you are innocent or guilty, judges want to see a respectful citizen.

  • Get there early. In Boone County during the arraignment docket in Courtroom 1A, the cases are heard on a first come first serve basis usually. Attorneys go first, and you can watch them to see what they do, or what the judge does in other matters.

  • Don’t speak unless spoken to. Interrupting a judge is bad. Saying things that affect your case is bad. So you should say very little. This is not a trial when you argue your case. When your case is called, approach the podium and state your name and date of birth. The judge will likely ask you that anyway.

  • Be polite. It is not the judge or the prosecutor that caused you to be in the courtroom. They are just doing a job. Answer the judge with "yes your honor" "yes sir" or "yes ma'am." If you have a question, the judge will usually ask if you have questions, but if the judge does not, then ask if you can ask a question.

  • Don't Explain. As stated before, this is not a trial. This is why I am restating this. Don't try to say "Your honor, it's not my fault, i'm innocent!" Stop. You argue your case at trial, not before. Judges have heard it before, and you are not going to convince them before a trial, or you have a .000000001% chance of convincing them.

  • Bring a pad and pen to write notes. They will give you another court date if you do not accept the offer of the prosecutor. Most times, they will give you a sheet of paper. But the judge may also give you instructions to do other things, so you should be prepared to write things down.

  • Obey conditions of your release. Just like the earlier blog, whatever the terms of your release are, don't violate them. That spells big trouble.

  • When in doubt, get an attorney. If you start to feel like you are out of your depth, ask the judge for time to get an attorney or get advice from an attorney before you agree to anything. Sometimes, the offers can be confusing and the consequences of accepting an offer may not be readily ascertainable.

There are many other tips we can give, but this will at least give you an idea what to expect. As always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions.