What to Expect on Your First Day in Court in Wake County

Many of our clients are nervous about coming to the Wake County courthouse for the first time.  The purpose of this blog post is to outline some basic things you can expect on your first day in court in Raleigh.  Please note this post is limited to matters in Wake County district court only and does not apply to cases set in Disposition Court (Courtroom 101) or Superior Court in Wake County, NC.  

When & Where to Go 

To check the date, time, and courtroom of your case:

When the list comes up, find and click on your name to bring up the details of your case, including the case number, charge(s), court date, and session.  In Wake County, there are 2 different sessions of court, designated either “AM” (meaning 9:00 a.m.) or “PM” (meaning 2:00 p.m.).  Know which session of court you will be attending so you can take off work or make other arrangements to be there at that time. 

About a week before your scheduled court date, the assigned courtroom will also appear on the website above.  Expect your case to be assigned to one of these courtrooms:

  • Courtrooms 201, 202, 203, or 204:
  • Courtroom 301:
  • Courtroom 303 – Domestic Violence Courtroom
  • Courtroom 403/404 – DWI

Because the dates, sessions, and/or courtrooms have been known to change unexpectedly, we recommend you check this site frequently.  You will also receive a call from our office the day before your scheduled court date to confirm the courtroom and session your case is assigned to.

The Day of Court

We are frequently asked by clients what they should wear to court.  Judges expect you dress nicely, neatly, and conservatively – absolutely no shorts, flip-flops, T-shirts, short skirts/dresses, or hats.  Sleeveless tops, jeans, and tennis shoes should also be avoided.  For men, we recommend wearing khakis/slacks with a tucked-in collared shirt – ties and jackets are optional.  Women should wear a conservative dress or a nice shirt with dress pants or a knee-length skirt.

On the day of court, plan to arrive downtown at least 30 minutes early, so you’ll have plenty of time to find parking, walk to the courthouse, and go through security.  All criminal courtrooms are now located in the new Wake County Justice Center, across the street from the old courthouse, at 300 S. Salisbury Street.  Because there’s no way to predict how long you’ll be there, we strongly recommend that you avoid using the metered parking spaces.  Instead, park in the Wake County Parking Deck, which is located at 216 W. Cabarrus Street. 

Once you’ve gone through the security checkpoint, you can take the elevator or escalators to the floor of your assigned courtroom (usually on the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th floor).  You should see your name on the blue monitor, which is located outside each courtroom.  Go inside, find a seat, make sure your cell phone ringer is turned off, and wait until Calendar Call.

The Calendar Call

One of the first things that will happen in court is called the Calendar Call.  The Assistant District Attorney (ADA) will give instructions, then “call” the name of each defendant scheduled for that session of court.  Here’s what you should know about the Calendar Call:

  • Be on time!  If you’re not there when your name is called, you will be marked absent, which can lead to a “Failure to Appear” and possibly a warrant for your arrest. 
  • When your name is called, simply say “Attorney” in a loud, clear voice so the ADA and clerk can hear you.
  • Do not expect your attorney to be there right at Calendar Call.

The Court Session

After the Calendar Call, expect that you’ll have to wait.  Bring a book or magazine to keep you occupied.  Our court schedule is very hectic – we are often dealing with dozens of cases in up to 10 different courtrooms.  Please be patient and know we will get to your courtroom as soon as we can.  We have not forgotten about you.  There is no need to call our office unless the judge specifically instructs you to do so.

Do NOT expect your case to be resolved on the first setting!  This is our first opportunity to speak with the police officer and/or any other witnesses involved with your case, if they are present.  We will then wait in line to speak with the ADA about getting your case continued to the officer’s next court date.  Although we do not get to request a particular court date, as some clients wrongly believe, you can usually expect your case to be continued about a month.

Some ADAs will simply give us a new court date without involving the judge.  Other times, you may be called up in front of the judge in order to get a continuance.  Many clients find the thought of going in front of a judge to be frightening, but it’s really nothing to be nervous about.  When the judge calls your name, simply come around the bench and stand next to the defense table.  Let us do all the talking!  We ask that you NOT say anything unless the judge specifically addresses a question towards you – which rarely happens.

Once your case has been continued and you’ve been given a new court date, you will be free to leave.  We ask that you maintain current contact information with our office so we are able to get in touch with you if necessary before your next court date.      

If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor in Wake County North Carolina please contact The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC for a free consultation about your charges.  You can reach us at 919-585-1486.  


Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.