The time has come for you to make your first court appearance for your criminal case at one of the counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. This article is written to try and provide information as to what you will primarily need to know. The very first thing to do is...Take a deep breath!!! Odds are you will not have to do anything more than sit in the courtroom, answer “present” and let our office do the rest.
In most instances, you won’t have to go in front of the Judge on your 1st-appearance court setting. It would be very unusual and out of the ordinary if something happens otherwise.
Tips from an Experienced DFW Criminal Defense Attorney
Attorney Advice Tip #1 - Parking:
There are usually multiple parking lots around the courthouse that you can pay to park in Dallas County and in Tarrant County. In Denton County, Collin County, and in Rockwall County parking is free. Regardless, it is important for you to plan ahead enough to account for any parking delays, or if certain lots closer to the courthouse are full. If you don’t want to have to deal with the parking situation at all - please consider taking a cab, Uber, or perhaps have a family member/friend drop you off.
Attorney Advice Tip #2 - Please be at court on time, and if possible, arrive early:
Parking can be a mess. Often the lines to pass through security can be lengthy and time-consuming to finally move through. In Dallas County and in Tarrant County, the elevators are an absolute, atrocious mess. Ensuring you are there well before your assigned court time will help ensure you are in proper place when needed. This is especially true in Tarrant County, where most courts routinely call docket early in the morning at a certain time, and if a defendant is not present and in the courtroom when their name is called, a bond forfeiture will result and a warrant will be issued for an arrest. Our office will do our best to try to provide all relevant information regarding what court you need to be in, where you will need to meet Carl, what time to arrive, and on what date and time. If you know you will be running late, or you know you will be present on time when expected, please contact our office to notify us immediately.
Attorney Advice Tip #3 - Dress Appropriately:
This is especially true in Collin, Tarrant, and Denton Counties. It is also true of Dallas County, but to a much lesser extent. It also depends on whether the setting is a Jury Trial, or just a routine docket announcement or plea. If your case is set for trial, it is important to dress in a manner where you will be comfortable having your peers judge you.
If you have questions or are uncertain as to what constitutes proper attire - then treat your court appearance as if you were going to church or a business interview. It is important to remember that all court personnel might possibly be paying attention to you in the courtroom, including Judges, prosecutors, bailiffs, court coordinators, and clerks. You do not want to be the person they “remember” by wearing something out of the ordinary.
Attorney Advice Tip #4 -Turn OFF your cell phone!!!
This is incredibly important regardless of where your court appearance is. Most courts, especially in Collin, Denton, and Tarrant County - will confiscate your cell phone if you merely have it on (even if just set to vibrate). Certain Judges will even hold individuals in contempt of court if a cell phone rings, or make a noise in the courtroom. Most Judges despise cell phones going off in their court room during docket, and the bailiffs will almost certainly confiscate your phone if it rings or makes any sound. TURN IT OFF!!!
Attorney Advice Tip #5 - Do not bring food or drinks into the courtroom
Regardless of what court your case is in - DO NOT bring any food or drinks inside the courtroom, even if bottled water. Simply leave it inside your car, of if your case is taking longer to resolve on a certain day, then engage in the consumption of any food or beverages when you know the Judge has allowed a break in the proceedings, or when you know court is in recess. If court is not in session, then consume any food or drinks outside the courtroom, and be back inside when you are told your presence is required.
Attorney Advice Tip #6 - Please have a seat and wait
Most criminal defense attorneys likely have multiple cases, in multiple courts, on any given day. If Carl is your attorney, either he or a member of his staff will attempt to contact you to instruct you where to go and where to be ahead of time. Even if your attorney is not present and you know that docket is going to be called, still be inside the courtroom at the required time. If it is in Collin County and it is a misdemeanor case, please check in with the bailiff inside the courtroom and wait on the benches just outside for Carl to arrive. If Carl is not there when you first get there, trust me - he has not forgotten about you, or your case. Simply text Carl, or call the office, after you have checked in to let him know you are there. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE without first talking to Carl and confirming you are allowed to leave for the day. Please just take a seat and if docket is called, and answer “present” if asked by the Judge or a bailiff. If directly asked, tell them Carl is your attorney (if you have indeed engaged our firm for legal counsel) and please then be patient.
It is important to note that every court, in every county, has different rules and procedures with how court settings transpire. Carl and/or a member of his staff will do his best to inform you, as best as possible, beforehand where you need to go, where you need to be, on what date and time, and approximately what will occur for any particular setting. If you have any questions while at the courthouse and Carl, or a member of his staff is not responding to a text or a phone call, it is almost certainly because he is in the courtroom conducting business. As such, please wait wherever your assigned courtroom is located and then be patient. Please a book to read if you cannot wait without being nervous and without using your cell phone (remember Tip #4). Our office will always do our best to attempt to limit the amount of time each client has to spend at the courthouse, and if it's not completely necessary, we will always try to avoid useless appearances if at all possible.
See below for the Dallas, Collin, Denton, Tarrant, and Rockwall Criminal Courthouse address and location information
Dallas Criminal Courthouse:
Location information/directions link HERE:
Frank Crowley Criminal Courts Building
133 North Riverfront
Dallas, Texas 75207
Collin County Courthouse:
Location information/directions link HERE:
2100 Bloomdale Road
McKinney, Texas 75071
Denton County Courthouse:
1450 East McKinney Street
Denton, Texas 76209
Tarrant County Criminal Courthouse:
Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center
401 W. Belknap
Fort Worth, TX 76196
Rockwall County Courthouse:
111 West Yellow Jacket Lane
Rockwall, Texas 75087