How Not to Act in front of a Judge in a Criminal Case

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Attention Mississippi citizens, if you find yourself in front of a judge facing criminal charges do NOT act like this Florida lady. As you can see in the video, the young lady was arrested for possession of Xanax. In what should have been a routine appearance before the judge to set bail, the young lady showed no respect for the judge. She was very flippant and did not take the proceeding seriously at all. When the Judge asked how much her jewelry was worth, she responded “oh, it’s Ric Ross” Obviously the Judge is not a fan of the hip hop heavyweight. The Judge first set her bail at $5,000 but when the lady said “adios” to him as she left the podium he ordered her bail to be raised to $10,000. (I disagree with the judge doing that. Bail is to guarantee that a person will appear in court and is not designed to punish a person. The judge was clearly punishing the lady by doubling the bail.)

When the young lady heard that the judge double her bond, she dropped an “F-bomb” (much like young Ralphie in Christmas Story) and then flipped off the Judge. The Judge then summoned the lady back to the podium and held her in direct criminal contempt and gave her 30 days in the hole. (Not to be confused with Humble Pie’s “30 Days in the Hole”.)

When a person is found to be in direct criminal contempt, which would include the type of behavior shown by the young lady in Florida, the judge can act immediately and impose punishment. There is no need for a separate hearing and the person is not entitled to get counsel. You go to Jail and you do not pass “GO” or collect your $200. (Speaking of Monopoly, did you see where the makers of the game replaced the iron game piece with a cat? Personally, I never cared for the iron. I was always wanted the race car. But, I digress.)

Some of you who read this (ok, I’m just assuming someone is reading this) may think that’s pretty harsh. However, our municipal and justice courts in Hinds, Rankin and Madison are packed every time the door is open. Judges and their court staff sometimes deal with a hundred cases a day. These judges deal with a lot of, ahem, interesting personalities to say the least. Most of these judges put up with a lot more than I would.

Our municipal court and justice court judges in Madison, Rankin and Hinds County do an exceptional job dealing with citizens and allowing them to present their cases. They are much more patient than I would ever be. My advice still remains that if you are going to any court and want a trial then you need a lawyer. However, if you insist on representing yourself please brush up on your “lawyering skills” (might I suggest watching “My Cousin Vinny”?) and be respectful and courteous to the judge.

We get calls all the time by folks asking if they need an attorney to go to court. I tell them that our laws allow a person to represent themselves on any criminal charge, even murder. However, I always ask them if they had a broken arm would they go to a doctor or try to fix it on their own? I see folks in court all the time trying to represent themselves on misdemeanors such as DUI, speeding, no insurance, etc. I guess folks think that if the watch enough Judge Judy they can go play lawyer. What ultimately happens is the person doesn’t know the court procedure and ends up arguing with the judge. This is not the person with whom you want to argue. The judge is deciding whether you are guilty or not so making him angry is not good.

I have been representing Mississippians for over 18 years on variety of criminal cases including murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, DUI’s, and drug cases. If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a crime, please call us. You can learn more about our criminal law experience by going to our website and looking at our Criminal Defense page. Don’t let the Judge give you 30 days in the hole!

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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