In life, there are "rules" about how to dress and behave in different situations. For example, when you apply for a job at an office building, you want to be dressed in your "Sunday best." While it's okay to wear a swimsuit to the beach, you certainly wouldn't wear one to a five star restaurant. When you go to the gym, you must wear proper athletic clothing and gym shoes.
If you're caught running on the treadmill in heels, or sitting in the sauna in a suit, you'll be asked to leave. Going to court is no different, there are rules about what to wear, and how to behave. Whenever a defense attorney is representing a client in court, he or she will instruct their client on "proper courtroom etiquette."
Proper courtroom etiquette is no joke; a criminal defendant's clothing and demeanor in court can literally make or break their case. If the defendant shows up to their hearing in ripped jeans, sandals and a T-shirt and they talk over the judge, they're in trouble.
Same goes for a defendant that's dressed nice, but yells obscenities at the prosecutor or a witness. Another big mistake, texting or taking a call on your cellphone while in court. When in court, observe these standard rules of etiquette:
- Leave for court early so you have plenty of time if you encounter traffic or a car accident
- Stand when the judge enters or leaves the room
- If you need a haircut, get one
- Make sure your hair looks nice
- Address the judge as "your honor"
- Direct your questions to the bench, not the prosecutor
- NEVER talk over the judge
- If the judge interrupts you, stop talking
- Dress nicely as if you are going to church or applying for a job at a government agency
- Do not use profane language
- Be polite to your defense lawyer, the judge, the prosecutor, and courtroom staff
- Do not bring your children to court
- Shut off your cellphone before entering the courtroom
- Avoid laughing, cracking jokes, or smiling – such behavior can be taken as pompous or not showing proper respect for the court
When you go to court, you must look and act your best. If you fail to dress properly or if you act immature or defiant, it can have a negative effect on your case. When you go to court, you want to make the best impression possible, so don't forget to show the judge that you have the utmost respect for their courtroom.
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