The Importance of a Defendant’s Physical Appearance in Court

In court, a defendant’s physical appearance can be of great importance. The judge, jury, and prosecutor will all form impressions about the defendant’s character, based upon his or her appearance. These impressions can affect every aspect of a case, and result in a more or less favorable outcome.

For that reason, I advise my clients to come to court looking their best. While business attire (e.g. a suit) is preferred, even wearing a nice pair of slacks and a button down shirt is far better than jeans or sweat pants. Covering up tattoos and minimizing piercing is also a wise choice. As an attorney, I also look at the specific nature of the case and work with my clients to ensure that there are no other aspects of their appearance that could give the judge, jury, or prosecutors a negative impression.

In a perfect world, a defendant would be judged solely upon the merits of his or her case, rather than upon his or her clothing, tattoos, and piercings. Sadly, we do not live in a perfect word, and appearance matters in court. Since I want the best possible outcome for my clients, appearance is an issue that I address as part of preparation for court.

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