Wilkins v. CommonwealthAnnotate this Case
Wilkins was convicted of petit larceny, a subsequent offense, and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. Before trial, Wilkins’s counsel objected to Wilkins being tried while wearing jail-issued clothing, described as "green, sort of scrub outfit,” black sneakers, and “a visible bracelet.” The court ordered a recess for Wilkins’s counsel to look in “a clothes closet” maintained by the public defender’s office. The record does not indicate whether Wilkins’s counsel used the opportunity. After the recess, Wilkins’s counsel unsuccessfully renewed his objection, explaining that Wilkins’s friend” had twice attempted to bring Wilkins non-jail-issued clothes but that the Portsmouth City Jail had refused to accept them. Wilkins did not put on any evidence. The jury was instructed that Wilkins was presumed innocent, but did not receive any instruction concerning his clothing or appearance. While the jury was deliberating, the judge reviewed Wilkins’ behavioral issues and referred to the clothing issue as part of “a pattern of trying to avoid going to trial. The Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed the conviction. There is no indication that Wilkins’s outfit was marked in any manner that would indicate it was from any detention facility. Neither the “sneakers” nor the “visible bracelet,” as described, were clear indicia of incarceration. Wilkins failed to meet his burden of proving that his clothing was readily identifiable as jail-issued clothing.