Being involved in a court case can be nerve-wracking, especially if you don’t know what to expect. It’s important to remember that your chances of winning are not set in stone, as each case is individual and the judge has the final say on how the case will proceed. The following three steps can help improve your chances of success if you find yourself in court.
Always have an attorney
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they’re involved in a court case is representing themselves. Judges and lawyers have been handling similar cases for years, so they know how to handle yours. Hiring an attorney early on gives you access to valuable legal advice and makes it more likely that your interests will be protected at all times.
Determine if you have a case
Before you decide whether or not it’s worth your time and money to pursue a lawsuit, be sure that you actually have a case. You don’t want to pour your heart and soul into litigation only to find out that you don’t have any legal recourse when it comes down to it. And if there is no case, do yourself and everyone else involved a favor by just dropping it from your life. Consider it an expensive lesson learned and move on.
Collect all supporting evidence
Be sure to show up with all supporting evidence: receipts, invoices, photos, and so on. If you can’t bring it with you, have a friend or family member take pictures of what you need at home and email them to yourself.
Before your hearing date arrives, review your case thoroughly and make sure that you have everything you need. Having everything organized ahead of time will help ensure that nothing is left out.
Give no information you aren’t asked for
A court is an adversarial place; you are there because you are at odds with another party. The last thing you want to do is provide a reason for your adversary’s lawyer or judge to doubt your credibility, so be prepared and stick with what has been asked for.
Go into the situation prepared.
Know your facts. The better prepared you are, and the more confidence you have in your knowledge and abilities will help set you up for success—and possibly a great defense. If there’s one thing that lawyers love to hear, it’s that I know a little about the law, so I think I can handle it. Be honest with yourself: Are you really ready? If not, take some time to get ready.
Do not be afraid to ask questions.
Whether you are in court as a party or as a witness, do not be afraid to ask questions. A simple I don’t understand can clear up many ambiguous situations and help your case immensely.
Keep it simple, but effective. Most judges do not care how long an objection takes if it is pertinent to their ruling. The most important thing is that you understand what is happening so that you can make better decisions on how to proceed with your case.