“You don’t KNOW me!” We hear this all the time. One person looks at another, makes a judgment about them based on the way they look, and then we hear it . . . “You don’t KNOW me!!” And you know what? They’re right. The one person doesn’t know the other. And yet, they still made a judgment based on appearance. Why? Because appearance matters!
In a perfect world, our appearance would not matter. It wouldn’t matter what kind of clothes we wore, how we wore our hair, or how we talked. No, in a perfect world, people wouldn’t be judged at all by what can be seen; rather, people would be valued by their contributions to society. But we don’t live in a perfect world . . . especially in the criminal justice system.
The plain truth is that it is hard for anyone (including, Judges, Law Enforcement, District Attorneys, and especially Jurors) to ignore what they see. And it’s even harder for them to put aside the judgments they are so used to making based on what they see. So, if you find yourself charged with a crime, make sure you present yourself in a way that says “NOT GUILTY!!” But how?
It starts with your clothes. Everyone knows the idea behind dressing to impress. We might have a difference of opinion on what it means to be “impressive,” but it is doubtful that anyone is unfamiliar with the concept. For example, if you go out on a date with someone you’re really in to, you know you want to make a good impression. And you do everything you can to do that, right? In court, the same principle applies.
When you go to court, wear your best clothes, and when you’re picking out what to wear; think “job interview.” For men it’s a button down dress shirt (ironed), a tie, dress pants and a nice pair of shoes. If you have a suit, even better. For women it’s a skirt at least knee length, with a blouse; no cleavage, no bare shoulders. Get the idea?
Think about it for just a moment; imagine two different people standing there in court, trying to convince the judge that they have a plan to get their life back on track. Both are trying show that they have overcome their mistakes, and that they will behave in such a way that they are never charged with a crime again. One person is dressed as described in the previous paragraph. However, the other person is wearing a dirty pair of jeans, a heavy metal tee shirt, and it looks like they haven’t showered in a week. Which person do you think the judge will believe? Or better yet, which person do you think a jury would believe?
When I was a prosecutor, I was amazed at how often this concept was missed by both defendants and their attorneys. It was almost as if appearance was an afterthought, or worse, not thought of at all. I remember sitting in court early in my career watching a case where a judge was deciding on whether to give a young defendant jail time. I’ll never forget the look of regret on the defendant’s face when the judge looked at him and said “I see you wore your favorite ‘Iron Maiden’ T-Shirt for this important occasion today.” Needless to say, this young man’s choice of clothing didn’t do much to help his cause.
At The Law Office of A. Todd Kuhnen, this attention to detail will not be overlooked as we strive to not only present the best defense possible, but also the best appearance. Contact us now to set up a free consultation.
Telephone: (916) 724-5333