Dressing the defendant to impress the jury in a criminal trial

The defendant in a criminal trial is, in effect, always on the witness stand because the jury is always watching. During the trial, when the defendant sits at the counsel table with his criminal defense attorney, the jury is observing his behavior and his demeanor, and making judgments. If the defendant is dressed inappropriately, this gives the jurors an easy reason to jump to a negative conclusion. Below are some suggestions for appropriate courtroom attire:

If the defendant is an older man, he should wear a suit, preferably a dark suit, although light brown or blue may be acceptable in warm months and climates. Wear a white or light blue shirt. If the defendant is a professional (e.g., doctor, lawyer, banker, professor), he must wear a tie. Younger male defendants – those who appear to be under 30 – can wear sweaters and pants, but not jeans, with a belt.

A female criminal defendant must wear a dress, or a skirt or slacks with a blouse or sweater, or a suit. Under no circumstances should a female defendant’s clothing reveal cleavage, a bare back, bare midriff, or bare shoulders.

A criminal defendant’s clothing should cover all tattoos and piercings. The only visible piercings should be in the ears, and only one set of small earrings should be worn. Consider tongue piercings to be visible piercings.