Being in custody, subject to bail hearings and on trial is not only a stressful process, with all that is at stake; it is also a very frustrating process as well.
If you are in custody and attending hearings or a trial, you may well have the frustrating feeling of a loss of control. At many times in life, when there is a problem confronting us, or something that we do not like, we can take action to deal with it – make a decision, do something, speak to someone or make an argument.
But when you are the accused, much of these actions are done by other people, such as your lawyer, and you do not have the immediate ability to right things yourself.
In a bail hearing, for example, where your ability to be free until your trial is being deliberated, you may have to sit in a quiet way while you watch others discuss matters that are vital to your own life and freedom.
When the crown attorney says something that you do not like, or you feel is not true, you are not able jump to your own aid and immediately correct what you hear and do not agree with. You must sit quietly while your lawyer rectifies this issue for you. This can be extremely frustrating, and might feel that your fate has been taken out of your own hands.
Sometimes, an accused person reacts to this frustration by talking, arguing or even yelling from the box when they overhear something that they disagree with. From a human emotional point of view, the feeling behind this sort of action may certainly be understandable; however from a legal and a strategic point of view, it is very dangerous and harmful to the very interests that you are trying to protect.
Our system of law and of the way laws are implemented in the courts have been created specifically to make sure that all sides of a legal case have a fair chance to be heard and understood, and ultimately that all the rights involved – very importantly including the rights of an accused person – are protected.
During hearings, such as a bail hearing, the structure of the process is designed so that each side, including that of the accused person, has a chance to state their position and point out the flaws they believe exist in the position of the other side. For this to work, each side must allow the other to state their position in a clear and full way.
There are specific rules about when each side might object to positions of the other, but if one were to simply yell out their immediate feelings, the fairness of the other side would be put in jeopardy. While we all may know this in a philosophical way, the strain and importance of what is at stake in the process leads some accused people to yell out their feelings out of turn.
This can be a very dangerous thing to do for an accused. Firstly, it is against the regulations and laws relating to how a hearing or trial is conducted and hurts the overall fairness of the hearing – the fairness that protects the accused themselves.
Because of this, actions might be taken against an accused who engages in this kind of activity and from a subjective point of view; it makes that accused appear aggressive and undisciplined which is not helpful in a hearing where they are seeking to demonstrate just the opposite.
Your lawyer has been trained in the legal issues that relate to your situation and the ways to approach a trial or a hearing and it is important that an accused understand that while a certain occurrence in a court might seem very off-putting to them, there may well be reasons for a lawyers’ conduct or actions.
Of course, your lawyer is your representative and you can confer with and direct your lawyer, and discussions with your lawyer about all aspects of your hearing are very important. But equally important knows when and how to assert your views and opinions and an outburst during a hearing is a very dangerous way of doing that.
One helpful thing to keep in mind is that even when you are not saying anything, you can still communicate things about yourself.
Holding oneself with discipline and respectfulness and conducting oneself according to the rules of a hearing, while they are not communicating in the sense of talking or yelling, are in fact ways of communicating your own sense of discipline and respect to the court. This may not be direct communication and it may take discipline and an ability to sit with one’s own frustration, but it is a form of communication and it relates to people positive things about you.
Yelling or interjecting when it is not appropriate to do so, on the other hand, while you may feel you are right, will have the effect of communicating negative things about yourself.
It is very understandable that a person accused with a crime has a sense of a loss of control during the process of justice, but it is important to keep in mind that this same system is what is ensuring that the rights of an accused can be protected.
This frustration is also strong because of all that is at stake, but because of this very fact – because so much is at stake – it is all the more important to think in a calm and clear way and to exercise discipline over rashness during the process where so much of importance to you is being decided.