View Full Version : Sentencing and shackles - attire

07-20-2005, 11:16 AM
Hi all, I have a close friend who is to be formally sentenced shortly and will serve a state prison term. She has questions about everything understandably, and even though I am her attorney (I handle very few criminal cases), I dont know the answer to them.

I have read the posts about wearing attire, which were helpful.

She has two children, 8 and 10, who will be attending her sentencing. She wants to be able to say goodbye. Will this be allowed after her sentence is announced?

She is more concerned about being shackled. Will this be done in the courtroom, in front of her children? Can it be done off to the side somewhere? Will they let her children leave first?

She is also concerned about the shackles themselves. She is modestly overweight, and is concerned about comfort. Do they have different sizes? Are they difficult to walk in? She wants to wear a pair of high heels to look nice for the judge. Would they let her take them off before she is shackled and led away? She also wondered if she could wear something like knee-high boots to the sentencing, and if she did, whether she could get away with not having shackles put on her feet. If she wore that, would they make her take her boots off, or would they just use a bigger pair?

Sorry for all the questions, but she is really concerned. Anybody who can respond will be greatly appreciated, particularly those with first hand knowledge. Thank you in advance.


07-20-2005, 11:42 AM
I would ask the judge. Ask permission for her to say good-bye and for the shackles to be put on outside of their view. If your client has not had any issues in the whole court proceedings there shouldn't be any problems.

The judge in my case let me go home for a few hours to get my affairs in order for my family. We got out of court at like 11:00 and I had to turn mself into the sheriffs office by 5:00pm. I was able to get my wife a power of attorney spacific to her needs and spend time with the children before walking into the sheriffs office.

I will say I had a great judge.

07-21-2005, 05:46 AM
In most courts, you and she are behind a table and the judge can't even see her feet. If comfort is a big issue, wear flats. If she is clean and clothes ironed, not flashy or too tight and modest jewelry, arms covered, that is good.

I wouldn't take kids to the sentencing. The prosecutor may be a tyrant, and who knows what will be said. Kids that young have no perspective and cannot process what is going on. It is hard enough for them to deal with what is going on without having it slap them in the face. Criminal Court is not a healthy place for pre-teens and if bad things are said, it will be in those kids' memories forever. What is the point of that? If you want the judge to know she has a good relationship with her kids, put it in a presentence memorandum.

A lot of this focus on trivialities is a way to reduce anxiety. The only thing that counts here is her kids and how they would suffer without her. But stress reduction is important and you will find good opinions here to help her do that. PM me if you want, i have worked with many parents facing sentencing. Good luck to you and her. It's great that you are going the extra mile to help her.

07-21-2005, 06:48 AM
I only had to wear handcuffs, and even they were a problem... specifically, I have big wrists... and so they only went on a click or two... caused some amusement... hehe... well, it was something to laugh about on a pretty crummy day. :P

key jo
07-21-2005, 07:07 AM
I think it just depends on the court. My husband wasn't even handcuffed in the courtroom because the holding cell was just through a door so they did it back there. He was allowed to say good bye to me with a hug and kiss. We didn't bring the kids because like said before, it isn't the place for them. They will always remember a judge telling you how long your sentence is and you saying "guilty", things like that. We did our good byes in the morning and I took the boys to daycare like a normal day even though they knew it wasn't. They were 8 and 7.

I would also suggest no high heels. Go with comfort and things she wouldn't mind losing if the property isn't picked up in time or if the property is placed in the wrong area, etc.

Hope it all goes well for her.

07-22-2005, 08:02 AM

I sent you a PM.

08-15-2005, 05:14 AM

I know I am probably late on this but I want to answer anyway.

First thing I suggest is that she say her good byes to her children at home. The day of my sentencing and the night before was probably one of the worst days of our lives, so I did not want them in the courtroom. You never know how you are going to react when you hear the sentence.

I know this is not something that you asked about, but please allow me to make a suggestion or two. I wrote a letter to each of my children the week before my sentencing. I also made a video for all three of them, now my children were older but I desperately wanted them to have a piece of Mom other than the letters, phone calls, and visitations to hold onto. I included in each letter my favorite photo of us to together and an explanation as to why the moment in time the photo captured was important to me. I also gave my oldest daughter the family photo album, but I had added notes about each photo a the time of life they represented.

As for what to wear at sentencing, no hose, no heals, I would wear socks, and flats. As much comfort as possible is the point, which there is not much when you are fully restrained. I did not wear a dress or skirt, had this awful belief I would fall and well....embarrass myself, that was a silly fon my part.

At time of sentencing I was cuffed, and led to a holding cell for the rest of the day. Handcuffs are bad enough, especially, if they like to tighten them down. I was not fully restrained until just before transport to jail. Shackles, waist chain, cuffs the whole bit, very difficult to walk in.

My parents and partner and I said our good byes before we went into the courtroom, just in case. All I had brought was my Grandmother's rosary, and managed to hold onto it through sentencing. Managed to give it to my lawyer who returned it to my Mom.

I wish your friend Good Luck, and if you would - from someone who has been where she is about to go, keep reminding her that at this time she may be at the lowest part of her life, but there is always new beginnings. It is hard, but you can and will survive and return to your children, family and friends, and if you don't let it beat your spirit down, life will again be good.

Tell her to stay strong, and know that life will be good again,

If I can be of any further help, feel free to pm me.