WHAT SHOULD I WEAR TO MY COURT DATE?
As a criminal defense firm, we get the question: “What should I wear to my court date?” all the time. Don’t be deceived in thinking that this is not an important question for someone who is facing the legal system with their freedom or quality of life on the line. Court is scary and unpredictable for those who have not been charged with a crime in the past, or have never been in court.
The outfit that you wear on your court date has a significant impact on how you are perceived by the judge, prosecutor and jury. This decision as to how to present yourself physically reflects highly on your case. If you are not dressed in a presentable or appropriate fashion, it can impact the ability of your attorney to persuade the judge or jury, and may have a direct effect on the outcome of your case.
A CLEAN AND WELL-THOUGHT-OUT APPEARANCE IS IMPORTANT
A clean and well-thought-out appearance demonstrates that you take your criminal charge(s) and case outcome seriously. It shows you have taken the time, or expense, to present yourself in the best possible light, and take the authority of the court and proceedings seriously as well. Nice clothing also demonstrates respect for the judge and the work that he or she does in the court of law.
Appearing nicely dressed is especially important if you are seeking to obtain any leniency from the judge or jury, such as lesser charges, probation, or other special program or deferral process.
WHAT SHOULD YOU NOT WEAR TO COURT
IF YOU ARE TRULY SERIOUS, NEVER WEAR THESE ITEMS TO COURT:
- Tank Tops
- Spaghetti Straps
- Crop Tops
- Clothing with Holes, Rips, etc.
- Open-Toed Shoes
- Graphic Tees
- Baseball Caps or Hats
You should also avoid wearing jeans unless these are the only type of long pants that are available. Even then, ensure that you wear a nice button-down, closed-toed shoes, belt, and possess an overall clean appearance.
These efforts will be noticeable and reflect positively in your favor.
BEST CLOTHING FOR COURT
The best clothing to wear to your court date is the most professional outfit that you have available. Ideally, this would include a pair of dress slacks, an oxford shirt (or other button-down), dress shoes, and a suit jacket.
For women, this could involve a pantsuit or a long dress/modest skirt. Always wear pantyhose under any dress or skirt and closed-toed shoes.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO WEAR TO COURT THAT FITS THE BILL?
Your physical hygiene is also a very important element of your physical appearance in court. Be sure to wash your hair and pull it back, appear shaven, and avoid smelling like drugs, tobacco, or cigarette smoke. Show respect for the judge and courtroom by removing any visible piercing and covering tattoos whenever possible. Despite society being more accepting of tattoos than in the past, they still are not considered commonplace in a court environment.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE DRESS CLOTHES?
It is understandable that everyone does not own a suit and tie or dress. The most important thing is to dress respectfully and show an effort to choose the most appropriate clothing that you do own.
Elevate some of the stress related to your court date by planning ahead. Try to borrow nice clothing from a friend or relative if necessary. You could also visit your local Goodwill or clothing distribution center to check if there are any nice donations available.