Written by attorney Mitchell Scott Sexner

How to Dress for Criminal or Traffic Court

Court is a formal place. Important matters happen there, dealing with life, liberty and sometimes even death. Police wear uniforms, Judges wear robes, and lawyers wear suits. All of these outfits are meant to show professionalism and to suggest that the wearer is someone that should be taken seriously. So what should you wear? Jeans with holes? Shorts and sandals? A bathing suit? T-shirts with rude sayings? You’re welcome to wear (almost) anything that you like to court, because after all, this is still America. But don’t expect to be taken as seriously as someone that took the time and effort to wear nicer clothes. You don’t have to wear a suit. Nice dressier clothing is always well received by court personnel. If you’re in the Armed Services or Reserves, a uniform never hurt anyone. But if you’re on the job during the day and are required to wear a maintenance uniform or other special clothing, don’t worry about that either. Judges know that court happens during the day and people have jobs to do. A judge is certainly not going to get mad because you’re in the construction trades. Just show that you care and everything will be fine.

I recall a judge that over one hot summer yelled at each and every defendant wearing cut-offs or a t-shirt. “Would you wear that outfit to church?" he would yell. “Well, this place here is my church and I’m not going to stand for it!" Each defendant was told to leave the courtroom and come back another day when they could be more respectful. Another judge, recently in the news, held a woman in contempt of court for wearing a t-shirt to court with a vulgar saying (and she wasn’t even a defendant). Although these are extreme examples, who needs this extra drama in court? So, just dress nicely, and don’t sweat it.

Additional resources provided by the author

Although every case is different, proper consultation and strategy with a knowledgeable attorney can often make a significant difference in the outcome. Criminal and traffic charges, regardless of whether they are charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, require careful planning to achieve the desired result. So speak to an experienced attorney before you take the next step.

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