First Day of Criminal Court in Ontario
Are you wondering how the criminal court process works once an individual has been arrested? Keep reading to learn more about the first day of criminal court in Ontario!
After an individual has been charged with a criminal offence and has been either released by the police or on bail, they are given a written notice to appear in court, which is known as the first appearance or first court date. The first court date is usually scheduled a few weeks after the accused person has been released.
It is important to note that the first court date is not a trial date, meaning that neither the Crown nor the defence will be making arguments, presenting evidence or calling witnesses during the first appearance.
On an offender’s first court date, they must attend the court date themselves or hire a lawyer to go on their behalf. If an individual is unable to get a lawyer for their first court date, duty counsel is available to assist unrepresented in addressing the court Attendance at the first court date is mandatory, and failure to attend can result in a warrant for the offender’s arrest and they may also be charged with failure to appear.
The main reason for having a first court date is to gather disclosure from the Crown. Disclosure is the information that the police and the Crown have about a person’s case and is used to prosecute the charges against the accused. The Crown is legally required to provide disclosure to a person who is charged with a criminal offence to allow them to review the evidence that will be used against them. Types of the disclosure may include:
· Police officer’s notes;
· Witness statements;
· Surveillance videos and photos;
· Financial documents; and
· Medical records.
At the first court date, the Crown will either:
· Give the individual the disclosure they have; or
· Inform the individual that the disclosure is not available yet.
Whether or not disclosure is actually received at the first court date, the case will likely be adjourned to give the accused person the opportunity to review the Crown’s case against them or to give the Crown the opportunity to gather the appropriate disclosure for the next appearance in court.
Adjournment also provides an accused person with the opportunity to decide whether they want to hire a lawyer or apply for legal aid assistance. If the matter is adjourned, the court will provide the accused person with a new court date and time for the next appearance. It is important to note that the next appearance in court after an adjournment is also not a trial date.
Although an individual charged with a criminal offence can represent themselves during their first court date, it is highly recommended to get a lawyer to help navigate through the challenging court process.
The experienced Criminal Lawyers at Tailor Law understand how life-changing criminal convictions can be and are here to help clients navigate through the complex court process to achieve the best possible results.
If you are looking for more information about the first day of criminal court in Ontario, do not hesitate to contact us and our specialist Criminal Lawyers can discuss your matter in more detail over a free consultation. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here.