The journal of Psychology, Crime & Law has findings in "Dangerous decisions: the impact of first impressions of trustworthiness on the evaluation of legal evidence and defendant culpability." The conclusion from this research was that judges and jurors cannot accurately evaluate whether a defendant is credible, that is whether or not the defendant tells the truth or lies.The research also concluded that defendants appearing untrustworthy required less evidence presented to the jury and the judge to arrive at a guilty verdict and were more confident about their decision.
The research is clear, if you are making an appearance in court for any hearing or trial you should present yourself at your best. It is of utmost importance for the jury and the judge to like you or at least respect you and most importantly believe your side of the story.
Know that your future and life are on the line, and behaving your best and having the best appearance in court is a small price to pay now for a potentially reduced or dismissed sentence.
Appearing Trustworthy in the Courtroom and During a Criminal Trial:
- Always be on time or early to ensure you are on time for all court appearances. Arriving late makes you appear less trustworthy, less credible, and less likable.
- Never speak out of order. Never speak unless you are asked to speak. Do not whisper, talk, or mumble under your breath. Do not interrupt someone when the person is talking or asking you a question. If you are unclear about what someone is asking you, ask them to rephrase the question when they are finished talking.
- Always dress conservatively, as if you were going to a job interview or going to see the President. Cover up as many tattoos, piercings, and body markings as you can. For instance, if you have tattoos along the length of your arms, consider wearing a long sleeve button down shirt. Wear neutral colors if you can; avoid loud or neon colors. If you feel you do not own clothing that a judge and jurors, (which are usually much older in age), would consider conservative based on their opinions, consider going to a used clothing store. Your life and liberty is priceless and at risk, and well worth spending just a few dollars now.
- Do not wear excessive jewelry, make-up, or accessories.
- Do not wear a hat or cap.
- Be sure to have great personal hygiene.
- Be sure your hair is nicely combed or brushed and conservative.
- Speak in as perfect English as you can and avoid using slang language.
- Be especially careful and very aware of your facial expressions and responses to critical testimonies, evidence, and the other side's arguments.
- Try your best to look innocent, as if you somehow have gotten tangled up in the criminal justice system.
- Never show anger, indifference, scorn, or have the attitude of not caring.