You and the Courts
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Brown County Law Blog

Scary and confusing. That's what courts are. The good part is, you will get to tell your side of the story. The bad part is, you have to do it according to the rules, and the rules won't always make sense to you.

Some things you should know:
    Don't ignore any paper you get in the mail or handed to you at your door that seems to be connected with a case in court, whether that means a criminal charge, a claim for money, or something to do with your child or children. Pay special attention to dates. If the paper says you have to show up in court on a particular day, you need to be there, unless you get a postponement (courts call it a "continuance")  in advance.

     If you've been arrested, you can almost certainly put up some money to get out of jail while you wait for your trial or negotiate with the prosecutor. If it's called a "cash bond," you get it back when you show up in court for your trial (though they may take costs or fines out of it, if there are any). If it's a security bond, what you are doing is buying an insurance policy for 10% of the total amount, and that you don't get back. You probably won't have a choice as to which it is.

     If you've been arrested, don't talk about your case--not to the police or sheriff, not to the prosecutor and, especially, not to other prisoners. Talk only to your lawyer. Don't answer any questions, except about your identification.

     If you've been arrested, you don't have to give permission to search your home or your car, and you shouldn't. There are some searches they can make without your permission. Notice what they do, but don't resist and don't give permission.

    If you've been stopped by the police or sheriff while driving, you do have to cooperate with sobriety tests. Otherwise you lose your license for one or two years. If you don't cooperate, the police can get a search warrant and take a blood sample by force if they have to. Sometimes they can do it without a warrant.

    Don't resist the police. They are sometimes wrong, but they are always police. If they have done something wrong, court is the place to resist. The street or even your house is not.