You are a good candidate for something called deferred adjudication. Deferred adjudication (also known in some counties as "diversion") is a type of probation that does not go on your record as a conviction. The probationary period usually consists of community hours, a few self-improvement classes geared towards the offense, drug tests, etc. Time period varies depending on charge and deal worked out with the defense. Now, def.adj. does go on your record, but not as a conviction, and once you complete it, it can be wiped from your record either with a Motion for Expungement
or Motion for Sealing of Record (depending on your state). Have your attorney ask for this, or ask yourself if for some reason you are not afforded an attorney and choose not to retain counsel. This is a good program, and the worst thing the DA can say is “no,” but even then, you begin talking about bringing the charges down, etc. You’ll be surprised how willing the DA will be to work with you – they often have a full docket and they’ll be happy to “move” your case to make room for more serious matters.
Dress nice - semi-formal. Don't wear sunglasses, don't wear bling, don't have pants down to your ankles, don't walk with a gangsta limp, don't chew gum, and turn off your cellphone, i.e. use your head. Impressions count here. No need to be formally dressed, but a nice blouse and slacks go a long way. No hoodies - that's for gangsters. You want to distance yourself as much as possible from half of the defendants you'll be sitting with to show you're not part of the idiot brigade for who this is a rite of passage.
They might take a while to get to you - don't sleep - you're not allowed to sleep in court. Don't rest your head on the side of the court wall. If you need to step out to call or to use the restroom, tell a bailiff first so they will sign you out. Be nice and courteous. Call everyone sir, ma'am, and the Judge - "Your Honor."
On your first hearing, after roll, get the bailiff's attention and ask the bailiff to tell a DA that you wish to discuss your case and want to waive your right to an attorney for this one time. The bailiff will tell the DA, and the DA will come over to talk to you. Try what I talked about above with deferred adjudication/diversion. If the DA is not playing ball, just reset the date to look for an attorney.
Best of luck in your matter. I'm here if you need any more clarification or follow up info.
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Edited by Eli on 3/1/2010 at 2:09 PM EST