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Presenting Yourself in Court as a Defendant


First impressions matter. Presentation counts. Books are judged by their covers. As a criminal defendant in the court system, you will be judged as well by your presentation and how you appear. While this may not seem fair or equitable, it is the truth. Wrong impressions by defendants towards juries can change lives. If you were arrested and charged for anything from a DUI to an assault, how you appear in court will matter.

Why Presentation Matters

The courtroom is the location of a formal legal procedure that is the cornerstone of our American justice system and personal freedoms. Whether in Federal Court or Florida State Court, understanding how significant this is can help you choose carefully how you present yourself. Treating the courtroom, the jury, the judge, and the entire process with respect includes wearing appropriate clothing and acting with dignity.

Bad Appearances

You may wonder what is considered acceptable and appropriate to wear in a court of law. First, you should know what not to wear.

  • Hats.
  • Inappropriate tops such as sleeveless or strapless shirt, cropped top, revealing or inappropriate tops, painting clothes, or t-shirts.
  • Inappropriate pants such as shorts, yoga pants, athletic pants, or baggy pants.
  • Inappropriate shoes such as flip flops or tennis shoes.
  • Inappropriate and inordinate amounts of flashy jewelry that is distracting.
  • Inappropriate hair that is wet, dirty, messy, in a hairnet, unusual looking or offputting, or dyed strange colors.
  • Inadequate hygiene such as cigarette smells, unshowered, smells of alcohol or drugs, filthy appearance, unkempt nails, or untrimmed beard.
  • A good rule of thumb is also to hide any tattoos, if possible.

Good Impressions

If you are debating what to wear on your court appearance, consider what you would wear to a business lunch or a nice dinner. Your appearance and clothing should all be clean, modest and most of all conservative. Never forget that how you appear to the judge and jury will matter. They will make judgments about you, even inadvertently or unconsciously, which may affect the verdict in your case. Consider wearing some of the following items.

  • Men: A nice suit with a tie, a collared shirt, khaki or dress slacks, a sport coat, dress shoes, belt, with trimmed facial hair, covered tattoos, and personal hygiene handled.
  • Women: A business suit, long skirt or modest dress, modest pantsuit, conservative jewelry, and shoes, with hair pulled back, clean nails with neutral polish, minimal makeup, covered tattoos, and personal hygiene handled.

Final Thoughts

Never wear any clothing that could in any way be related to a gang. Try to choose comfortable clothing that will eliminate any possibility of you sweating on the stand, which could look incriminating. Avoid all clothing that has any political references. Finally, leave your cell phone at home or in the car. This will avoid all temptation to look at it, or have it ring in the courtroom.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

You should use every opportunity you have to make the best impression you can make on the judge and jury, as they may be deciding your future. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, we can help you from how to dress in the courtroom, to building you a strong case in court. Contact the Fort Lauderdale criminal attorneys at the offices of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. at 954-467-6656 or visit us online to schedule a free consultation.


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