It is not uncommon for defendants to feel the need to appear unaffected in court. The person in the robe is handing you a sentence, and you want to make it seem like you couldn’t care less. This all makes sense in your head. However, think of it like this:
You are in court because the State is claiming you did something wrong (i.e. broke the law).
You maintain your innocence.
Your attorney proclaims your innocence.
If you appear to be taking this as a joke, the judge could think you’re scoffing at the whole system.
If the judge thinks you’re scoffing at the system, he or she will not think favorably upon you.
If he or she does not think favorably upon you, any decision they make that has any judicial discretion will not be made in your favor.
A decision not made in your favor means you could end up serving a long term, more fines, more restrictions, or any possible punishment that the judge can legally award.
Your attorney goes home.
The judge goes home.
Your stuck with harsher punishment and have your attitude to thank for it.
I am not trying to say that you must go in on bended knee. I am saying to show the judge that you’re taking the whole process very seriously. Judge’s and prosecutors look at the attitude of the defendant when making their decisions. There have been times that I wanted to cuss out a prosecutor or *gasp* judge (yes, attorneys are human too), but it would be disrespectful and could possibly hurt the outcome of my client’s case. It’s a test of a person’s character how they are able to hold their tongue when tried.
I don’t care if a client wants to trash talk every person he or she has ever met. They can rant and vent all they want to me before we enter the courthouse, or after. But, please, for your sake, not mine, hold your tongue while in court.
For example, in South Dakota, Boyd William White Twin was being sentenced for an assault with a deadly weapon. Mr. Twin lost a trial, and it was time for sentencing by the judge. Mr. Twin allegedly smiled during sentencing. The judge took that as a sign of disrespect and sentenced him to an additional six months in prison. Mr. Twin claims he was not smiling. But it was well within the judge’s discretion to sentence him to those additional months. Now he can think about his smile while he sits in prison for the additional time.