The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically increased the use of virtual communications throughout the justice system. Many people accused of unlawful acts are discovering that their hearings are being performed on a digital platform instead of an actual courtroom. With a new atmosphere, it is important to adapt to set yourself up for the best chance of winning your digital legal proceedings.
Start by Talking with A Lawyer
Regardless of what the type of case you have, it is vital to seek an experienced lawyer’s assistance. You will want to meet with your chosen attorney before your legal proceedings to discuss your case. Just as legal proceedings have gone virtual, you can likely expect to have a digital meeting with your attorney to ensure everyone’s safety.
By meeting with an attorney ahead of time, you can discuss your case and defense. They will determine what evidence they will need to get prepared for the actual legal proceedings. Your attorney will also take care of contacting witnesses and preparing them for the coming trial. Most importantly, they will be there to answer all your questions regarding the charges against you, legal procedures, and anything else you can think of.
The evidence that is presented at your courtroom proceeding is referred to as an exhibit. With digital proceedings, the submission of these exhibits must be made prior to your courtroom proceeding. This way, both the other party and the judge and/or jury have access to each exhibit. For this reason, it is so important that you contact an attorney well before your trial date to ensure that all exhibits are prepared and sent to the right parties.
Decide on A Quiet Place to Participate
Before your digital proceedings get underway, you will want to determine the right place for you to participate. Do not make the mistake of simply using your smartphone to participate as you’re walking around your home or the block. You should pick a place that is stationary, such as a home office.
You will want to ensure the area that you pick is quiet. There is nothing worse than the judge not being able to clearly hear you during the proceedings. If possible, try and ensure no one else will be home or that they know to remain quiet during the proceeding. This one step will go a long way in setting you up for success on your trial date.
Choose Your Clothes Wisely
The clothes you wear tend to be a representation of your intentions in an endeavor. If you wear workout shorts and a tank top, your intent is likely to go to the gym. You would not expect someone to show up in a courtroom in gym clothes. It would be hard to take them seriously. Rather, you expect them to show up in a more business formal attire.
Just because your legal proceedings aren’t in-person, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dress accordingly. The judge is going to be in their robe. Your lawyer is going to be in their business attire and so should you. You want to dress with the intention of having respect for the justice system and show your commitment to attending the case.
Get The Right Equipment
With the spike in online communications, you’ve probably noticed a large difference in the quality of people’s visual feeds. Sometimes the lighting washes people out on screen. Other times, the internet connection goes in and out. While all technical difficulties can’t be adverted, you should do your best to prep your equipment.
While you likely will not have an open wallet to invest in the best video communication equipment available, you should try to have adequate equipment for your hearing. The device you choose to use should have a functioning speaker, microphone, and camera.
Most courts will provide you with a test link so that you can test your connection to the court’s system prior to your hearing. It is best to give this a go and ensure your connection does not experience any adverse messages like ‘low bandwidth’. If you experience technical issues with the court’s system, you should remedy these prior to the trial date and retest your connection to ensure they are fixed.
Preparation of The Camera and Lighting Placement
When your trial date arrives, you want to ensure that you look your best for the video feed. Part of this is positioning the camera appropriately and having adequate light placement. The camera on the device you will use to connect to the proceedings should be placed at your eye level. This placement ensures the courtroom participants and witnesses aren’t looking up or down at you.
When it comes to lighting, you should place it behind the camera. This position should allow the light to project directly onto your face. If the lighting comes from behind or above you, it will make you appear washed out. Again, it is best to test out the lighting ahead of time to get it just perfect before the actual trial date.
Behavior Preparation Tips
Just because your legal proceedings are not in an actual courtroom, that does not mean you should not act like it. You are better off pretending the area that you designated for your video connection is the inside of a courtroom. This means respectful practices of putting your phone on silent, staying in the same seated position throughout the proceedings, and not making noise when you are not addressed by the court.
When you are speaking during the proceedings, you should do so as if you are talking directly to the camera. It can greatly benefit you to test out video chatting with others prior to the proceedings to make yourself appear more comfortable in front of the camera. Also, practice pausing for a couple of seconds before you start speaking. This pause will allow those with a slower video feed the ability to hear the entirety of your statement instead of missing the first few words or sentences.
Do A Trial Run Before Your Day in Court
As you have read multiple times throughout this article, you should do a trial run before the actual day of your legal proceedings. We cannot emphasize this enough as it will drastically enhance your ability to have a successful hearing. You can easily address technology issues prior to the actual day. It will also allow you to be more comfortable in front of the camera and throughout the proceedings.
Contact Us for Legal Help
While there is no denying the fact that the pandemic has greatly changed the way the justice system is handled, our lawyers have quickly adapted. In fact, we handle virtual hearings each week. If you require legal help in central Texas, give our office a call today. We can assist you with all your family law needs.