Common Mistakes to Avoid When Attending Court
Many of us will, at one time or another, need to go to court to handle a legal matter. Whether it’s for a traffic ticket, a family law matter, civil litigation, or you’ve been charged with a crime, knowing how to handle the situation can influence events in your favour. Going to court can be costly and is certainly not considered a fun task! Avoid these common court mistakes to ensure your court appearance goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Assuming your case will be heard. Many folks think, “because I am going to my court date I am going to have my matter heard.” However, the courts are overburdened and have limited time to hear cases. Many people receive a First Appearance notice for Provincial Court and think that they are going to have a hearing, but at a first appearance, the judge is there to sort through a hundred people, and then assign different court dates where they will eventually be heard. In Supreme Court, often the list is so long that the lawyers and their parties sit there all day and the court never has time to hear them.
Assuming family law rules are the same for other types of legal issues. There are rules in family law. In family law, there is only one rule: there are no rules. For example, if someone doesn't appear in court, the rules say one can get a default judgment. Because the court is concerned with the best interests of the children, granting a default order is not something the court wants to do, so see the first rule: there are no rules.
Bringing written character references to court. Some people assume, “if I have a letter from someone that is good enough.” Often, the court will dismiss the attempted entry of a letter from someone if that person is not there. There is a right of cross examination. If the individual writing the letter is not in court for possible cross examination, the court may not use it.
Assuming the courts will seek my proof. People facing court can sometimes wrongly believe that if they direct the court to their proof, the court will find it. For examples, statements such as "I was at Joe's house, and if you don’t believe me, you can just ask him,” are not helpful to the courts. Each person is responsible for presenting their case, and the judge is not going to go chasing evidence. The evidence must be brought to the judge, so either be prepared to bring Joe to the judge or don’t talk about how the judge should “just call Joe.”
Not preparing your evidence. Another assumption that often leads people astray is, “if the court wants evidence, it will ask for it, and I will produce it. If the court wants my last three years’ tax returns, I will provide it on demand." If you want the court to consider a document, or if you dont want the court to see you in a negative light because you didn’t produce a document, then produce the document and enter it into evidence. The court is not responsible for telling you how to present your case. Not to mention, if you missed something important, the court might think poorly of you for missing vital documents.
To avoid these and other costly mistakes in court, reach out to the legal experts at the Law Offices of Gary Vlug. Specializing in family law with over thirty years of experience, the Law Offices of Gary Vlug understand that dealing with difficult situations like divorce, child-custody, and other serious family matters can be stressful. Their main goal is to provide assistance and guidance to improve the lives of children and their families. With flexible appointment times and affordable fees, you don’t have to face your legal battle alone. For more information, please visit www.familylawlawyervancouver.ca or click here to schedule a consultation.