Update: For Harris County Criminal Courthouse locations and times after Hurricane Harvey click here.
The time has come for you to make your first court appearance with your criminal defense lawyer. This is what you need to know. Take a deep breath. Odds are you won’t do anything more than sit in the courtroom, answer “present” and let your defense lawyer do the rest. In most instances, you won’t have to go in front of the judge on your first setting.
There are multiple parking lots around the courthouse that you can pay to park. There are also metered parking spaces. If you park in a metered space, ensure you put plenty of money in, so you don’t run out of time.
If you don’t want to deal with the parking situation consider taking a cab, uber or having a family member or friend drop you off.
Parking is a mess. Security lines are a mess. The elevators are a mess. Ensuring you are there well before court gets started will ensure you are in court on time.
Your bonding papers will have your court number, date, and time. If you are late, the court can forfeit your bond and put you back in jail. If you have disregarded the above warning and are running late, let your attorney know.
Treat your court appearance as if you were going to church or a business interview. Court personnel are paying attention to you in the courtroom. You do not want to be the person they “remember.”
Or put it on vibrate. Judges despise cell phones going off in their court room, and the bailiffs are likely to confiscate your phone if it rings.
Your criminal defense lawyer likely has multiple cases, in multiple courts that day. Just because he is not there right at docket call, does not mean he forgot. Text your attorney, prior to entering the courtroom to let him know you are there. Take a seat and if the docket is called answer “present” and give your attorney’s name.
See the image below for a map of the Houston Criminal Courthouse (Harris County)
3200 Travis 4th Floor Houston, TX 77006