As a criminal defense attorney in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana and Hinds County, Mississippi courts, I have often seen defendants appear before a judge inappropriately dressed. This is a big mistake. The district attorney and the judge will look at you to see what kind of person you are – if you appear in a tank top, baggy shorts, and visible tattoos, they are going to think you are a thug and deserve to be in jail. This might seem stereotypical and unfair, but nonetheless it’s the truth — people are affected by appearance and you must dress appropriately for court.
What You Should Wear
I strongly recommend to my male clients that they should wear a collared shirt, khaki pants and dress shoes. If you own a suit, you should wear it. Your shirt should be white or dark colored with a collar. Never ever appear in court in shorts. Women should dress conservatively – avoid revealing clothes or short skirts. In general, you want to make yourself look like you don’t belong in criminal court.
Proper Clothing Makes a Good Impression
Coming to your court date in informal or inappropriate dress indicates to the judge and district attorney that you are not showing proper respect to the court. On the other hand, dressing appropriately increases your chance of receiving a plea agreement or sentence that you can work with. And while having a suitable appearance is important in front of the judge and prosecutor, it is even more important in front of the jury. Jury members watch the defendant and will base some of their decision upon their personal observations.
It’s a simple matter — the judge, district attorney and jury can have a big impact on your future, so you should dress appropriately and show proper respect.