When you are facing possible jail time in criminal court, everything matters — from the charges against you to how to dress for court. Find out what you should wear to your next court hearing, and why it matters.
This blog post will discuss why it matters what you wear to court. It will include tips for how to dress for court hearings from arraignment to trial, and will include options if you are in jail while your case is pending.
Why How You Dress for Court Matters
There’s a certain psychology behind defending against criminal charges. You and your criminal defense attorney are trying to make the judge and jury see you as a person, not a criminal. For the prosecutor, your case may be mechanical — just a matter of whether all the elements of the crime are met. But to you, it’s personal.
Certainly, you and your lawyer will discuss legal defenses and the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Together, you will take the time to prepare your strongest defense and gather all the evidence. But in the courtroom, first impressions count. And not just on the trial date. You should make your best impression every time you step into the courtroom.
How to Dress for Court Hearings
Your criminal case will include an arraignment and various other pretrial hearings. Depending on the court, and the charges against you, you may or may not have to attend yourself. Any time you are required to appear in court, you should be dressed to impress. That means:
The judge wants to know that you take these criminal charges seriously. By dressing professionally, ideally in a button-down shirt and dress pants or a skirt, you show the court respect. You will also set yourself apart from the many criminal defendants who walk in wearing shorts, jeans, or even coveralls for work.
Cover Your Tattoos
You never know the personal beliefs of your judge. While some may be happy to see your ink, others may see it as signs of deviant behavior that make it more likely you committed the alleged crime. You don’t need your art working against you. If you have tattoos, do your best to cover them whenever you go to court.
One thing many people don’t consider when dressing for court is the metal detectors. Most Colorado courthouses are secured. You will need to pass through a metal detector as you enter to screen for weapons. But if you are wearing a heavy necklace, watch, or other metallic jewelry, it could set off the metal detector, and require that you be wanded down. Try to choose an outfit that won’t offend the sensors. It will reduce your stress and help you move more quickly through security.
Dressing for the Jury
When it comes time for trial, the courtroom becomes a kind of stage. Putting on a criminal trial is about telling your story in a way that is believable. Little details, like how you are dressed, can sometimes have big effects that you didn’t intend. Your criminal defense attorney may have a strategy behind what you wear — even down to the color of your shirt, or your haircut. As part of your preparation, ask your lawyer if there is anything specific you should or shouldn’t wear to court that day. Then do your best to match the story your lawyer is telling the jury.
What to Do if You Are In Jail Before Your Hearing
For some criminal defendants, dressing for court isn’t as easy as opening up their closet. If you or a love one are held in jail prior to trial, it could take a team to get you ready to present yourself to the jury. In most cases, detained inmates will attend arraignments and pretrial hearings in their jail clothing. But you don’t want the judge or jury to see you as a criminal on the day of trial.
Your criminal defense attorney can request that you be allowed to wear a suit or other clothing for trial. If that request is granted, your family or friends should plan to bring the outfit to your attorney ahead of time. Then the lawyer can bring your clothing to the jail or courthouse so you can change. It may seem like a lot of hassle, but the psychological effect of seeing a person charged with a crime already dressed for jail could be enough for the jury to find you guilty when there really should be a reasonable doubt.
At Aviso Law, LLC, our criminal defense attorneys have experience with the Colorado criminal court system. We know how to tell your story and make the most of the legal defenses available to you. We even know how to dress for court to make the most of a bad situation. We want to be here for you from arraignment to trial, and any sentencing afterward. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.