“Have an upcoming criminal court date in Wake County? I’m sure that there are plenty of other ideas running through your mind. Being appropriately dressed shouldn’t be one of them. During my time as a courtroom clerk for the great state of North Carolina in Wake County, I have seen it all from men wearing three-piece suits to women having curlers and a shower cap on addressing a court of law (the latter is not advised).
In Wake County, the dress code is not very strict in comparison to the smaller counties where everything makes a difference. Here in Wake, if you have to ask if it is modest or appropriate- the right answer is most likely “no.”
For the gents, a simple polo and a nice, clean pair of khakis will do just fine when you are coming to court in Raleigh. Business casual is a good way to go. If you’re a younger man in your teens or early twenties that has a drug, drinking charge or excessively high traffic violation, it is better if you have a nice button-up shirt, khakis and NO tennis shoes. Showing the judge that you made an effort to look presentable is important. It shows them that you are taking your charge seriously.
Another important point for the men is to tuck in your shirt tail!! There are two judges in Wake County that are very particular about this. One of them has been known to hold men in contempt for violating his rule. He gives you fair warning at the beginning of court but you better not appear before him looking sloppy or you’ll regret that decision. Appearance matters!
For the ladies, being modest is crucial. Coming to court in cut offs will get you negative attention from the bench. If a judge feels disrespected by outrageous outfits - that will not help your case one bit! Low-cut shirts, high skirts, midriffs are all things that should be avoided. You are there to address an elected official- it is important to show respect as this person may be the person deciding judgment on your case.
In Wake County, we realize that not everyone has a lot of money for clothes and a fresh, dry-cleaned button down. If all you have is a clean pair of jeans, then bring them on. Judges don’t go around looking for reasons to be harsh- rather, they typically are trying to help people get their lives straightened out. When I was a courtroom clerk it was not uncommon for certain Judges to go out of their way sometimes to help a young man or woman that showed that THEY WERE TRYING. On the other side of the spectrum are people that show up sloppy, late and just plain don’t care. If you come to the Wake County Justice Center like that- don’t expect a lot of help or guidance.”
1. No flip-flops
2. No holey jeans
3. No low cut shirts
4. Clean clothes
5. Men: tuck your shirt in
6. Ladies: modesty is your friend
Matt LaSasso was a clerk in the Wake County Clerk of Courts Office from December 2013 to February 2015. He now
works for The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel as the senior legal assistant. If you are charged with a crime in Wake County please contact The law Offices of Wiley Nickel, PLLC for a free consultation at 919-585-1486.