For many people facing a driving offence allegation, their greatest fear is of the prospect of appearing in court and not knowing what is happening. It is understandable than an ordinary person maybe intimidated by the formal court procedure and etiquette. They are worried they will address the magistrates incorrectly, or sit down at the wrong time or say something embarrassing.
Here are a few pieces of advice that may help you through the ordeal:
- The magistrates should be addressed as “Your Worships”, even if you are answering a question asked by just one of them.
- If it is a District Judge who is sitting in court, they should be addressed as Sir or Ma’am (pronounced “mam”).
- Whether you are pleading guilty or not guilty, you will have to speak in court. If you instruct a solicitor, they will speak on your behalf so you do not have to.
- It is likely that the magistrates will want to ask you questions. You should therefore consider beforehand what they might want to ask you and be clear on your answer. If you instruct a solicitor, they will cover these matters before the hearing and answer on your behalf in court.
- There will probably be quite a few people in court including the magistrates, a court clerk, a prosecutor, a probation officer and the press. It is useful to know who everybody is before the hearing.
- If you are worried about what to wear, it is advised that you dress for a court appearance as if you were going for an interview for an office job.
- You should be aware that you may have to wait outside the courtroom for a long time until it is your turn. Often people who are represented by a solicitor will go into court first. This is because their solicitors are in the courtroom and ask for their cases to be heard first.