As a defense attorney in Arizona, I get asked a lot of questions regarding courtroom procedure and other things such as courtroom dress. So we thought it would be a good idea to put some of these question up on a post for you to get answers. There are answers here to some of the most commonly asked questions, including “What should I wear to Court?”
I hope this helps you when it comes time to present yourself in front of a judge. Remember that you want to make a great impression on him or her – dressing poorly is going to give the judge a negative impression. Because the judge is the one that in many cases will determine guilt or innocence as well as the type of sentencing you will receive (including fines and jail or prison time) if you are found guilty, you really want to do everything you can to make a positive impression.
With that said, here are the answers to the questions that we get asked most often:
Q; Can I bring my family or boyfriend/girlfriend to the hearing?
A: You may bring only immediate family. Bring only people that will make a positive impression in the courtroom and that will not be loud, boisterous, or interfere with procedure. There will be no warnings – they will be escorted out if there are any issues. Remember that the people you bring also make an impression on the judge – and that could work against you.
Q: Should I shave? I have a beard?
A: Yes you absolutely should shave. We believe our clients must look presentable to the judge. A groomed, short beard is generally acceptable but when in doubt, shave. It will grow back.
Q: Should I get a hair cut?
A: Men: yes, if your hair is long and especially unruly. Clean-cut is always more presentable than wearing long hair. Women: look your best but within reason. For example, you don’t need a beauty parlor. But don’t look like you just woke up, either.
Q: What should I wear to court?
A: Wear professional attire as best you can. Men: wear a collared dress shirt and dress slacks, dress shoes with long matching colored socks. Women: wear a dress at least knee length or a blouse paired with knee length or longer skirt or dress slacks. Wear either blue or white blouse. Blue is the best overall color to wear, white shirts are also good to wear with blue or black pants and black shoes.
Q: Can I wear a hat?
A: No, you really should not wear a hat inside a building anyway, and courts especially do not allow any hats be worn in the courtroom.
Q: Should I buy a suit for court hearing?
A: If you own a business suit, then yes it is a great thing to wear as long as it is in good repair and clean. Preferable suit colors are black or dark blue with a white shirt and black shoes/socks.
Q: I am not going to see the judge can I wear jeans and shirt?
A: No, whether you are going to see a judge or not, it is always important that our clients look presentable for others (judge, prosecutors) to see yourself taking the matter seriously. If you do not dress the part, others will see you as someone not to be taken seriously and will look poorly upon you. This could easily translate into a more difficult hearing or court date and more serious consequences to your charges.
Hopefully this little Q&A has been helpful to you! If you are going to court in Phoenix or anywhere in Arizona and have a question regarding courtroom dress or procedure, give us a call. We will be happy to help in any way we can.