What to Wear To Criminal Court in Canada
If you are attending a criminal Court or Youth Justice Court in Canada you should dress in good quality clothing, what you would wear to a job interview in an office, or what you would wear to a wedding or church. This is important to show respect for the Court. Whether you like to show respect or not, you will not get Crowns and Judges to exercise discretion in your favour if you dress with disrespect. I expect my clients to dress well.
Take off your coat or parka and leave it at the back of the courtroom on the seat or in a cloakroom, and out of sight, with the person who drives you to Court. Make sure that person is older than you and doesn't act badly in Court. When you are standing in front of the Judge do not put your hands in your pockets. Try your best to find a seat. You may have a long wait. If you stand near the door you may be asked to wait outside because of fire regulations.
Open and close the courtroom door(s) quietly. Don't let a door squeak or bang. Perform a gentle bow at the doorway when you arrive and leave if the Judge is in the courtroom. Stand and remain silent when the Judge enters or leaves the courtroom.
BEFORE COURT STARTS you can speak to the duty counsel or police bureau officer at the front to give them a letter from your lawyer. If you don't have a lawyer speak to duty counsel. Don't try to talk to the Crown or police bureau officer while the Judge is in the courtroom. Names will be called in the order selected by the Crown or Clerk. Lawyers who are present normally get called first.
Never wear a hat, chew gum, or leave your mobile device and headphones on in a Courtroom. Never but never permit your cell phone or pager to be turned on in the Courtroom, leave it locked in your car. Don't make rude noises.
Don't put your elbows or arm up over the seat, in front or behind. Keep your legs and feet out of sight.
Judges get very upset when people in the summer wear shorts, light flimsy tops, revealing necklines, bare belly buttons, and bare shoulders.
Shirts should be tucked in and buttoned up. Belts should be fastened. Shoes should be worn.
If you wear a T shirt (and I don't recommend it) make sure it doesn't bear any anti-social slogan. Ripped T shirts will result in an angry Judge or Justice of the Peace.
If your son or daughter or spouse has been arrested, held in custody, and does not have appropriate clothing, contact the police or the jail where they are being held, and bring them appropriate clothing. Make sure there are no sharp objects or drugs in the clothing. It is amazing how many accused persons in custody come to Court without shoes. You can't expect the custodial authorities to supply them with clothing, any clothing. I have seen prisoners come to Court wrapped in a sheet.
If your son or daughter or spouse has been charged YOU SHOULD ATTEND COURT WITH THEM. Although they may have got themselves into this mess they need you at this difficult time to help maintain proper decorum at a very stressful time. Young persons without parents in attendance often do childish things at Court which they wouldn't do if a parent was nearby. That just gets them into more trouble. Important life changing decisions will need to be made at Court and a parent must be present. Courts will sometimes order parents to attend.
Your child, adult or teen, may have let you down for the fifteenth time but they are still yours and they need you there even if it's only to say to the duty counsel or Court that you can't take them home. The Court will appreciate your presence and that will help your son or daughter on a long term basis.
When your name is called walk up to the front (no silly or stylish walks) and stand beside your lawyer. If you don't have a lawyer walk up to the front only when your name is called. Identify yourself. Give your date of birth if you are asked. Advise if a parent is present and identify them in the courtroom if you are asked. Parents may accompany their child to the front of the room in Youth Justice Court. The charge may be read. Don't plead guilty or not guilty on first appearance. If they read the charge and ask if you understand, just tell them if you understand the charge. On out-of-custody first appearance you should always ask for about a 3 week adjournment/postponement unless your lawyer advises otherwise. Ask if disclosure including any video is ready.
Stephen R. Biss, Barrister & Solicitor
470 Hensall Circle, Suite 303
905-273-3322 or 1-877-273-3322
Advertisement. Any legal opinions expressed at this site relate to the Province of Ontario, Canada only. If you reside or carry on business in any other jurisdiction please consult a lawyer, solicitor, or attorney in your own jurisdiction. WARNING: All information contained herein is provided for the purpose of providing basic information only and should not be construed as formal legal advice. The author disclaims any and all liability resulting from reliance upon such information. You are strongly encouraged to seek and retain professional legal advice before relying upon any of the information contained herein.