The goal of defence counsel right from the start of any criminal trial is for a client to make a favourable impression on a judge or jury right from the minute the judge or jury enters the courtroom. In order for a client to receive a fair trial, it is important to make sure he or she takes the time to dress and groom themselves appropriately. As criminal defence lawyers, Kruse Law Firm specifically advises our clients regarding what to wear during their trial or guilty plea and sentencing. We also carefully explain to him or her the reasons behind this, which is to build up their credibility and reliability in the eyes of the judge or jury and portray themselves as a respectful, conservative and law-abiding individual.
Both judges and juries obviously tend to be conservative and law-abiding citizens. Studies show that people who are similar to themselves can more easily relate and give each other the benefit of the doubt. Conservative and law-abiding people tend not to identify or associate with alleged lawbreakers who they perceive are on the other end of the spectrum. A client charged with a criminal or DUI offence has to convey to both the judge and jury in his or her dress and demeanor that they are ‘cut from the same cloth’-no pun intended.
The tendency will be for a judge or jury to form a more favourable first and lasting impression of a client whose appearance and grooming suggest a high level of respect for the proceedings she or he is involved in. A criminal defence lawyer needs to present his or her client in such a way that they are perceived to be a conservative and upstanding citizen.
There are a lot of unspoken psychological factors which go into winning any criminal trial. The manner in which a client grooms and dresses is one of the key psychological factors which can make or break a criminal case. Making an ongoing positive impression during the course of a trial is an important factor which may assist in winning any criminal case whether a person is charged with a DUI, sexual assault or murder. In my view, both judges and juries take careful and unspoken note of both a client’s manner of dress and demeanor throughout the entire course of the trial and they form favourable or unfavourable opinions and biases based upon their impressions.
The client must present themselves as a person with similar traditional morals and outlook as the judge or jury. This will maximize his or her chances of the judge or jury properly applying the presumption of innocence and burden of proof to require the Crown to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the client testifies, they will tend to be perceived as more credible and reliable if they are dressed in an appropriate fashion and present themselves in a respectful and conservative manner to a judge or jury. The way that the client appears in both dress, grooming, demeanor, and mannerisms before a judge or jury is one of the key ways that an accused can easily tip the scales of justice in their favor. Based on my experience, there is no doubt that the manner in which the accused’s clothing, grooming, and demeanour come across to the judge or jury goes a long way towards winning a criminal case.
The fact that a client should come to court conservatively dressed accords with simple common sense. However, if you have ever attended a criminal court in Canada on any given day, you would not believe how some of the accused are dressed. Likely without intending to, the clothing and mannerisms of some accused give the judge or jury the impression that, “Yes, I am a criminal and I am guilty. Please convict me.” We always insist that our clients dress appropriately and conservatively or it could result in alienating a judge or jury.
To use an analogy, whenever we are introduced to a new acquaintance and their clothes are not appropriate for the occasion or they are not clean and neat, then we may form an initial impression that we do not want to associate with them. This is probably not fair. It is probably not right. But it is probably a fact of life.
General Instructions Kruse Law Firm Provides to All of Our My Female and Male Clients
Our lawyers instruct all of our clients to dress conservatively. We tell them to choose the type of clothing that the average person wore to church in the 1950s or to pretend they are attending a semi-formal event. We tell them to avoid flashy clothing, jewelry, expensive watches, or heavy makeup.
Specific Instructions for Female Clients Regarding What to Wear to a Criminal Trial
For our firm’s female clients-we recommend tasteful and conservative clothing such as a business or pantsuit or skirt which covers their knees and properly fitted clothing which is not too tight. We advise our female clients that they not wear flashy or expensive jewelry, dangling earrings, or expensive watches. Further, we occasionally suggest to them that they go a little bit lighter on the makeup than they normally would. If it is a one-day trial, we recommend that they wear dark clothing to show their respect for the proceedings and to be perceived as a serious and credible person. If it is a lengthier trial, towards the end of the trial we advise them to continue to dress conservatively, but to also wear a slightly lighter shade of clothing. In my view, this will present a psychological sense of optimism towards the end of the trial as reflected by the lighter colors.
Specific Instructions for Male Clients Regarding What to Wear to a Criminal Trial
For our male clients, we again recommend tasteful and conservative clothing. We insist that they wear a conservative suit, white shirt, and tie. Again, our lawyers instruct them not to wear any flashy jewelry, earrings, or expensive watches. We recommend that they appear clean-shaven with a neat, off-the-collar haircut. We also recommend for a shorter one-day trial that they wear a dark suit to show their respect for the proceedings and to be perceived as a credible and serious person.
If it is a multi-day trial, we advise our male clients at the beginning of the trial to wear darker suits and to gradually lighten their suits in stages throughout the course of the trial and especially towards the end of the trial. In my view, if an accused wears slightly lighter colors towards the end of their criminal trial, this conveys a sense of optimism as reflected by the lighter colors.
We further advise our clients that whether they know it or not, a judge or jury is always taking note of their clothing and demeanor which reflects both their character and respect for the proceedings during the course of their trial.
These unspoken psychological factors go a long way to tipping the scales in our clients’ favor in any criminal case.