Your First Time in Court: A Colorado Defendant's Handbook to Criminal Proceedings

August 28, 2023

This article is for educational and entertainment purposes only. This is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Every case is different. Consult a licensed professional in your state. Viewing this website or its content does not create an attorney-client relationship with Lyda Law Firm or any of its lawyers.


Facing criminal charges and stepping into a courtroom for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. But knowledge is power, and understanding what to expect can alleviate some of the stress. At Lyda Law Firm, we aim to guide you through the complexities of the Colorado criminal justice system. This handbook is designed to give you an overview of what you can expect during your first time in court.

First Steps: The Arrest and Booking

  1. Arrest: Being arrested is the initial step in the criminal process. You’ll be read your Miranda rights and taken to a local law enforcement station.
  2. Booking: After the arrest, you'll be booked. This involves recording your personal information and the charges against you.

First Appearance: Advisement Hearing

Your first court appearance is typically an advisement hearing. Here, you’ll be informed of the charges against you, and your rights will be outlined. You’ll also be asked if you have an attorney or need a court-appointed one.

Bail and Bond

  1. Bail Hearing: In some cases, you’ll have a separate bail hearing to determine whether you can be released pending trial.
  2. Bond: If bail is set, you or someone else will need to post a bond to secure your release.

Pre-Trial Procedures

  1. Discovery: Both the defense and prosecution will share evidence.
  2. Motions: Your attorney may file motions to dismiss evidence, or even the case.
  3. Plea Bargaining: Sometimes, cases are settled through a plea deal before they go to trial.

The Trial: What to Expect

  1. Jury Selection: If you're facing a trial by jury, the first step will be choosing impartial jurors.
  2. Opening Statements: Both sides present a brief outline of what they aim to prove.
  3. Presentation of Evidence: The prosecution goes first, followed by the defense. This is the meat of the trial.
  4. Cross-Examination: Each side has the chance to cross-examine the other's witnesses.
  5. Closing Arguments: Both sides summarize their case and make a final appeal to the jury or judge.

Verdict and Sentencing

  1. Deliberation: The jury, if there is one, will deliberate and come to a verdict.
  2. Sentencing Hearing: If you're found guilty, the judge will hold a separate hearing for sentencing.

Appeals Process

If you're not satisfied with the outcome, you have the right to appeal. The appeals process is intricate, requiring extensive legal expertise.

Tips for First-Timers

  1. Dress Appropriately: First impressions matter. Dressing respectfully shows that you take the court seriously.
  2. Be Punctual: Arrive early to allow time for security checks and to locate the courtroom.
  3. Speak Respectfully: Always refer to the judge as "Your Honor" and be polite to all court personnel.
  4. Stay Calm: It’s easier said than done, but try to remain calm and collected. Emotional outbursts can negatively impact your case.

Why Choose Lyda Law Firm for Your Criminal Defense

Our mission at Lyda Law Firm is to democratize access to quality legal representation. We focus on client-centric approaches, transparent pricing, and personalized solutions to make this challenging time a little easier for you.

Your Legal Team: How to Make the Most of It

Having the right legal team can make a world of difference in your case. Here's how you can collaborate effectively with your legal representation:

  1. Open Communication: Be as honest as possible with your attorney. The more they know, the better they can defend you.
  2. Documentation: Keep all documents related to your case well-organized. This will help your attorney prepare a more robust defense.
  3. Questions: Don't hesitate to ask questions. Your understanding of the process is crucial for your peace of mind and for making informed decisions.

FAQs for First-Time Defendants

  1. Do I need a lawyer?: While you have the right to defend yourself, having a skilled lawyer is invaluable.
  2. What happens if I plead guilty?: Pleading guilty will move the case directly to the sentencing phase. Ensure you consult with your attorney before making this decision.
  3. Can I speak to my family and friends about the case?: Be cautious about discussing the case outside of your legal team as statements can be used against you.

Last-Minute Reminders

  1. Arraignment vs. Trial: The arraignment is your first court appearance, but it's not the trial. They are distinct phases in the criminal process.
  2. Public Defender vs. Private Attorney: While public defenders are a no-cost option, a private attorney may offer more personalized attention and resources.
  3. Know Your Rights: Always remember your basic rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.


Entering a courtroom for the first time can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be a bewildering experience. Familiarize yourself with the legal proceedings, work closely with your attorney, and stay informed. Understanding the legal procedures can make the process less intimidating and empower you to make informed decisions. At Lyda Law Firm, we strive to offer affordable, transparent, and top-tier legal support, ensuring you're never alone in your legal journey.

In-person meetings by appointment only.

If you have legal insurance, please call 844.844.LYDA (844.844.5932)



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