What should I wear to court?
This is a question that can often cause people to feel a great deal of anxiety. This worry is often increased by the fact that the question often fails to arise until the very night before a person is required to attend court.
So we have a situation where a person may already be stressed about the morning’s court appearance and suddenly they are struck with the query “what do I wear?”
The good news is that the answer comes down to a single word “respect.”
A Judge or Magistrate is required by law to take into account a long list of matters when making a decision, particularly if they have been called upon to hand down a penalty. One thing that certainly does not weigh in a person’s favour is any sense that they do not respect the court process. This is where clothing comes in.
Now before we dive right into it, we are not talking about having to go and buy a new suit or needing to wear expensive clothes. Far from it! Magistrates and Judges understand that there are those that appear before them who cannot afford such things.
As everyone would know from their daily lives, respecting someone or a process does not come down to money. It is quite simply an attitude.
Provided a person is neat and tidy and presents themselves in what they consider to be their most formal or respectful clothing, they will not be making a mistake in their presentation to the court.
We should put to one side for the moment a person who is experiencing extremely tough financial times. If an individual’s day-to-day life involves a struggle to obtain food or shelter, they can hardly be expected to attend court in their finest clothes. We will come back to them a little later.
For anyone who does not face those challenges, a good guide may be what a person would wear to a professional job interview.
For males, long pants and at the very least a collared shirt is a starting point. If you wish you could elevate this to long sleeves and potentially a tie or coat. Some people suggest that males should come to court dressed in the clothes they would wear to a wedding. Again, it depends upon what is financially possible.
For females, the reference to clothing they would wear to a job interview is also appropriate.
Returning to those who might be financially pressed. If for any reason a person is not able to attend court in the clothing that they would otherwise wish to wear, the thing to keep in mind is their demeanor. Even when a person does not feel they have been able to dress appropriately, conducting themselves in a way that shows respect to the system and that they are taking the process seriously, goes a long way to overcoming any issues arising from how they are dressed.
It should be stressed that courts are designed to be impartial and the ideas outlined above should not in any way be misinterpreted to suggest that a person’s clothing is a key factor that governs how their case will be dealt with by the court. Far from it.
It’s more a question of ensuring that the court understands that a person appreciates the gravity of the court process.
Again, these ideas are targeted at the 11pm stress point when a person is worried that they have nothing to wear. Hopefully this information will help a little bit at that time.
Article by Cameron Browne, Director & QLS Accredited Specialist (Criminal Law)