Yes, You Should Wear a Suit to Court (and Other Helpful Tips) It can be very intimidating going to your first court hearing and you may be worried about what to do and what to say. When you appear in court in Maryland, it is important to present yourself in a way that gives the judge or jury a good impression—and it does play a factor in their decision more often than not. If you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney, they will help you with this, whether you are facing something like a DUI charge or even an assault charge. Your attorney will prepare you beforehand with common questions the judge or prosecutor may ask and how you should respond. But there is so much more to it than being just mentally prepared for court. You need to be physically prepared as well. This all can seem really overwhelming, but if you are prepared in all the right ways, your confidence could help your case.

Dress in business professional attire

The court wants to see you looking like an upstanding citizen. If you arrive in your most comfortable t-shirt and the jeans you wore to paint the house last weekend, you probably will not give off the best vibes to the people who are judging your innocence in a serious crime. If you do not look like you are serious, they may not think you are serious about being innocent. When it comes to dressing for court, try to look like you are going to a job interview.

Definitely be sure to:

  • Wear a suit and tie for men or a skirt, dress, or pantsuit for women
  • Wear modest, subdued colors
  • Dress conservatively

Definitely do not:

  • Wear sneakers
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Wear non-religious headwear
  • Expose tattoos
  • Wear jeans
  • Choose tight, revealing clothing

Be sure to arrive early

Your attorney will likely tell you the same as well. Nothing looks more unprofessional than walking into a quiet courtroom past its start time. Try to arrive at least 15 minutes before you are scheduled. That way, you will not draw eyes to you as you enter and you definitely will not miss your case being called.

Meet with your attorney ahead of time

Your attorney will be with you every step of the way, and you probably will have many conversations with them long before your court date. However, do not forget to step aside to a private area and talk to your attorney before you walk into the courtroom. This is the perfect time to ask any last-minute questions without disrupting the judge.

Address the person you are appearing in front of correctly

Most people know to address a judge as “Your Honor.” It is important to call them that out of respect and to not use “Sir” or “Ma’am” instead. If you respect the judge, they will typically offer that same respect back to you. However, not every case will be seen in front of a judge immediately. Sometimes you will appear before the justice of the peace first. If you address them, be sure to call them “Your Worship” instead.

Leave your snacks at the door

Be sure to also behave appropriately while you are in the courtroom. If you are eating, drinking, or even chewing gum while in the courtroom, you are disturbing the order of the court and disrespecting the judge. You will likely even be asked to leave the courtroom. Eat a nice-sized meal before you leave that day to avoid being hungry while you wait.

Do not bring your children if you can avoid it

Unless they are directly involved in your case, it is best to leave your children in someone else’s care. Small children especially can be disruptive, and you want the judge to focus on your case—not your kids. Try to either bring another adult along who can wait outside the courtroom with them or hire a sitter for the few hours you will be there.

Put your cell phone on silent

If you are going to court in Bowie or Crofton, make sure your cell phone is either turned off or on silent mode. You also may not, unless specifically instructed by the judge, use your cell phone while you are in the courtroom, per Maryland court rules. They want to be sure that you are not talking about the case, recording information, or taking any pictures while you are there.

What if my court appearance is virtual?

If there is another instance where, for example, cases of COVID-19 surge and court hearings go back to being virtual, all the same rules still apply. Even though you are behind a computer screen, you should still look presentable and be well-mannered. You should probably “arrive” even earlier to court when it is virtual because you never know if you will have technical issues. It is better to log on as early as you can so you will be ready to go as soon as court gets started that day, even if it is online.

At Carey Law Office, we want to make sure you are as prepared as possible for your court hearing or trial. Looking presentable and behaving well will give the judge a good first impression, which can only help in your criminal case. If you step out of line, the judge can—and probably will—scold you in front of other people. It is not only embarrassing, but it may also leave the judge with a bad taste in their mouth before your case is even up. If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in Bowie, Crofton, or Calvert County, you need the help of an aggressive and skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side. Call our offices or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.