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How to Appear in Court by Phone


How to Appear in Court by Phone

Getting summoned to court can be stressful. Taking time off work, getting childcare, travel expenses – it can get complicated fast. But did you know you may be able to attend your court hearing by phone? Appearing by phone, or telephonic appearance, can save you time and money. Here’s what you need to know about appearing in court by phone.

When Can You Appear by Phone?

Many courts now allow telephonic appearances for certain types of hearings, like status conferences, continuances, and motions. This means you can call in to the hearing instead of showing up in person. Each court has different rules though, so check your summons or call the court clerk to find out if a telephonic appearance is allowed for your specific hearing.
Some key things that determine if you can appear by phone:

  • The type of hearing – some hearings like trials require in-person attendance.
  • Local court rules – some courts only allow telephonic appearances for certain types of cases like traffic tickets.
  • Judge’s preference – some judges do not allow telephonic appearances except in emergencies.

Bottom line, ask the court clerk as soon as you receive the summons to see if you’re eligible for a telephonic appearance.

How to Request a Telephonic Appearance

If you want to appear by phone, you’ll need to request permission from the court. Here are the key steps:

  1. Check the summons or call the court clerk to confirm telephonic appearances are allowed for your type of hearing.
  2. File a request with the court clerk – this is typically done by filling out a simple form. Do this as far in advance as possible, don’t wait until the last minute!
  3. The judge will review your request and decide whether to approve it. You’ll get notified by mail if it’s approved or denied.
  4. If approved, the court clerk will send you instructions on how to call in to the hearing.

Tip: If your request gets denied, you can file a motion and ask the judge to reconsider. Provide a good reason like you moved far away or you have a disability.

What You’ll Need to Appear by Phone

If your request is approved, make sure you have everything you need for the hearing:

  • The court’s phone number and access code – this allows you to dial in to the hearing.
  • A quiet location with good cell reception – no background noise allowed!
  • Your case number and any documents – have your information handy just like you would in person.
  • Photo ID – some courts require you show ID on your phone camera to verify identity.
  • A pen and paper – to take notes during the hearing.

Also charge your phone and clear your schedule for the hearing time. You don’t want your call to drop mid-hearing!

Day of the Hearing – Dialing In

On the day of your hearing, follow these steps:

    1. Dial the court’s phone number at least 5 minutes early. There may be prompts to enter the access code and security PIN.
    2. Stay on hold and muted until your case is called.
    3. When prompted, unmute yourself and state your name. Follow any instructions from the judge or clerk.
    4. During the hearing, speak clearly and mute yourself when not speaking to avoid background noise.
    5. If the call drops, call back immediately and explain the technical issue.

After the hearing ends, hang up the call. The clerk will mail you any orders made by the judge.

Pro Tip: Use a landline instead of a cell phone if possible for better call clarity.

Key Telephonic Appearance Tips

To make your telephonic court appearance goes smoothly:

  • Double check the dial-in number and access code.
  • Find a quiet location with minimal background noise.
  • Have all your information and documents ready ahead of time.
  • Speak slowly and clearly when addressing the judge.
  • Mute yourself when not speaking to avoid interruptions.
  • If the call drops, call back immediately.
  • Follow all instructions from court staff.
  • Be patient if put on hold – do not hang up.

With the right preparation, you can handle your court hearing smoothly from the convenience of your home or office. Just make sure to follow the proper procedures for requesting a telephonic appearance.

Appearing By Phone for Criminal Cases

For criminal cases like misdemeanors or felonies, appearing by phone gets more complicated. Some courts allow it, but your options are limited.
In general, telephonic appearances are only allowed for minor procedural hearings like continuances or pretrial conferences. For more substantive hearings, the judge will require you to appear in person.
There are a few exceptions. If you’re incarcerated, the court will arrange for you to appear from jail via video conference. And in extraordinary circumstances like a medical emergency, your attorney can file a motion asking the judge to permit a phone appearance.
But otherwise, expect to show up in person for any critical criminal case hearings. Constitutional rights like the Confrontation Clause give defendants the right to face their accuser in court. So phone appearances are only granted in limited cases.
Talk to your criminal defense attorney to understand your options. But don’t count on dialing in for your entire criminal trial!

Appearing by Phone for Civil Cases

For civil lawsuits and hearings, telephonic appearances are more widely allowed. Many courts permit phone appearances for a variety of civil case hearings including:

  • Status and pretrial conferences – to discuss case readiness and logistics.
  • Discovery motion hearings – to resolve disputes over evidence and depositions.
  • Law and motion hearings – to argue legal issues like summary judgment.
  • Settlement conferences – to negotiate a settlement agreement.

There are good reasons for courts to allow remote appearances in civil suits. It’s more efficient for everyone when parties can resolve routine issues over the phone instead of taking time off work and commuting to court.
But again, check your local court’s rules for specifics on when telephonic appearances are permitted. And for major hearings like trials or evidentiary hearings, in-person attendance may still be required.
The key is being proactive. As soon as you receive a civil suit summons, reach out to the court clerk and find out your options to appear by phone. Follow the procedures to request telephonic appearances whenever possible. It can save you significant time and hassle.

Should You Hire a Lawyer?

Wondering if you need to hire a lawyer to help with your telephonic appearance?
For minor issues like traffic citations or small claims cases, you can probably handle the phone hearing yourself. It’s fairly straightforward.
But for more serious civil or criminal cases, it’s wise to have legal counsel. An experienced attorney can advise you on the rules for telephonic appearances in your jurisdiction. And they can represent you at the hearing, speaking on your behalf and safeguarding your legal rights.
Lawyers aren’t cheap. But investing in one is wise if there are serious penalties on the line or you need to negotiate a complex settlement. Don’t leave your legal rights to chance.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

At the end of the day, is appearing in court by phone right for you? Here are some key pros and cons to help decide:

  • Saves time and travel expenses of going to court.
  • Allows you to attend hearings that would otherwise be difficult to get to.
  • More convenient for routine or minor court matters.
  • Let’s you attend hearings while away on business or vacation.


  • Technical issues could disrupt the hearing.
  • Harder to communicate or present evidence by phone.
  • Physical absence may influence rulings against you.
  • Not suitable for major hearings like trials.

As you can see, there are good reasons on both sides. For minor hearings, the convenience factor of appearing by phone usually wins out. But for anything complex or critical, being there in person gives you the strongest advantage.
Decide what works best for your unique situation. Just be sure to follow all the proper procedures so your request gets approved!

The Bottom Line

Court hearings by phone provide a convenient option for anyone wanting to avoid the hassle of traveling to court. Just confirm it’s allowed in your case, submit your request well in advance, and be prepared on hearing day.
With the right preparation, you can handle many basic court matters smoothly from the comfort of your home or office. But don’t forget to weigh the pros and cons and have a lawyer represent you in any complex or serious case.
Hopefully these tips give you a better understanding of how to take advantage of telephonic court appearances. Just stay organized, be patient on the call, and let the judge know right away if you have any technical issues. It may feel strange at first, but with practice it can become routine.
Now take a deep breath, and dial in to justice from anywhere! Let me know if you have any other questions on appearing in court by phone. I’m always happy to help walk through the process. Wishing you the best of luck in your case!

Delancey Street is here for you

Our team is available always to help you. Regardless of whether you need advice, or just want to run a scenario by us. We take pride in the fact our team loves working with our clients - and truly cares about their financial and mental wellbeing.

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