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What Should I Expect When I Go to Criminal Court?

By Benson Varghese

Last Updated: July 2nd, 2020
Published on: June 8th, 2015

Going to criminal court for the first time can be a scary process. If you have limited exposure to the criminal justice system, you likely have no idea what to expect. Taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the process will help you feel more at ease when your first court date arrives.

What Time Should I Be in Criminal Court?

There are few things worse than getting off to a bad start in court. As our client, you will receive notice of all court settings through the Client Portal. As you plan your trip to court, keep in mind that parking in the downtown area can be hectic. The first step you can take toward a positive experience is to allow plenty of time to arrive. Besides parking, you will have to make it through security, and make it up to your courtroom. The elevators are usually packed and it may take 5-10 minutes to get an elevator. Stairs are located on the east side of the building.

The time on your court notice is the time you are expected to be present in the courtroom, not  parking or walking into the courthouse. A good rule of thumb is to take your court appearance time, and plan to arrive in the downtown area forty-five minutes before. This will give you the opportunity to not only park and walk to the building, but go through security, and arrive at the correct floor and courtroom.

There are 20 criminal courtrooms in the Tim Curry Criminal Justice Center. You will need to make sure that you know which court your case is filed in. If you are charged with a misdemeanor offense, you are assigned to a COUNTY court. All of the Misdemeanor courts being with CCC (County Criminal Court) and then have a number 1-10. If you are charged with a felony offense, you are assigned to a DISTRICT court.

Tarrant County Criminal Courts

CourtAbbreviationFloorJudgePhone
Misdemeanor Courts
County Criminal Court Number OneCCC15th FloorJudge David Cook817-884-1337
County Criminal Court Number TwoCCC26th FloorJudge Carey Walker817-884-1338
County Criminal Court Number ThreeCCC37th FloorJudge Bob McCoy817-884-1374
County Criminal Court Number FourCCC45th FloorJudge Deborah Nekhom817-884-1426
County Criminal Court Number FiveCCC56th FloorJudge Jamie Cummings817-884-2726
County Criminal Court Number SixCCC68th FloorJudge Molly Jones817-884-2745
County Criminal Court Number SevenCCC78th FloorJudge Cheril Hardy817-884-2773
County Criminal Court Number EightCCC87th FloorJudge Charles Vanover817-884-3400
County Criminal Court Number NineCCC98th FloorJudge Brent Carr817-884-3410
County Criminal Court Number TenCCC107th FloorJudge Phil Sorrels817-884-3420
Felony Courts
Criminal District Court Number OneCDC15th FloorJudge Elizabeth Beach817-884-1351
Criminal District Court Number TwoCDC26th FloorJudge Wayne Salvant817-884-1347
Criminal District Court Number ThreeCDC37th FloorJudge Robb Catalano817-884-1356
Criminal District Court Number FourCDC48th FloorJudge Mike Thomas817-884-1362
213th District Court213th8th FloorJudge Chris Wolfe817-884-1529
297th District Court297th5th FloorJudge David Hagarman817-884-1908
371st District Court371st8th FloorJudge Mollee Westfall817-884-2985
372nd District Court372nd6th FloorJudge Scott Wisch817-884-2990
396th District Court396th6th FloorJudge George Gallagher817-884-2768
432nd District Court432nd6th FloorJudge Ruben Gonzalez817-884-2935

Tarrant County Jail: What can I expect when going to criminal court?

What Happens When I Get to My Courtroom?

When you arrive outside of your assigned courtroom, if it is unlocked go inside and check in with the bailiff. However, if you are early, the courtroom will likely be closed and you will need to wait outside on the benches. Once you are allowed into the courtroom, the bailiffs will give you instructions as to whether you should check in with them, or have a seat and wait for the judge to formally call the docket. Docket call is the court “taking attendance” to make sure that all of the defendants scheduled to be there are present. If the bailiff or judge calls the docket, be sure to answer out loud. You want to make sure that the court knows that you are present, otherwise a warrant can be issued for your arrest.

How Long Will I Have to Wait?

The average docket in Tarrant County can last two to three hours, depending on the volume of cases called. The bulk of your time in court may be spent waiting. Your attorney may be in the building but expected in front of another judge before coming to yours. The judges understand this and have a hierarchy for attorneys to appear in courts. Attorneys must appear in felony courts first, and then make any misdemeanor appearances they may have.

What Happens When My Attorney Arrives?

When your attorney arrives, he or she will speak to the prosecutor on your behalf. It is extremely rare for a judge to speak to an individual charged other than at a plea setting. Criminal defendants also almost never speak directly to the prosecutor. Your most important tasks are being in court on time and communicating with your attorney.

Most cases in Tarrant County take about a year to be resolved. At Varghese Summersett PLLC, we generally resolve cases in a month to three months. For further information on our unique approach to criminal cases, call us at (817) 203-2220 or reach out online.

Being informed and having realistic expectations will help make the process of handling your case less stressful. If you arrive on time, are prepared to be patient, and maintain good communication with your attorney, you will have taken significant steps toward having a productive day in court.

Click here to learn what to expect at each court setting.