If you are charged with a criminal offence, a court date will be scheduled. The first court date is not a trial date, it is not a date where the witnesses or police officers will show up or testify, and The facts underlined the criminal charges will not, in all likelihood, be discussed. The first court appearance is simply a date for the judge to confirm whether or not you have a lawyer, and whether or not you have ordered or received disclosure.
Disclosure is everything that the crown and police have in their possession related to the criminal charges.
- officer notes,
- complainant statements,
- audio video recordings,
- medical reports,
- expert reports,
- and anything that might be relevant to the criminal charges.
An accused person has a constitutional right to receive everything. This can take months and sometimes years to receive.
If you retain a criminal defence lawyer, typically, your lawyer will make that first court appearance, and all court appearances there after, for you. Your lawyer may have you sign a document called a “designation of counsel “, which will allow them to appear in court for you, without you having to be present.
It is always advisable to retain a defence lawyer at the earliest opportunity. Appearing on your own behalf can have detrimental consequences on the successful defence of your criminal charges.