If you are charged with an offence, you will be given a first appearance date by the police. This is your first court date. While many people think this date is their trial or that their matter will be resolved on this date, it is simply your first appearance before the court. In the majority of cases, nothing substantive will happen at this appearance. You must attend this court date or retain a lawyer to attend on your behalf.
The main purposes of your first court date are to receive disclosure and to ensure you are seeking legal advice. Disclosure is all of the information the police have collected on your charge(s). It is often available by your first court appearance.
If you have not retained a lawyer by your first court date, Duty Counsel is available to assist all accused persons. Duty Counsel can assist you by helping you obtain your initial disclosure, making a referral to Legal Aid if necessary, and appearing with you in court.
On average, cases take approximately two to six months to complete and there are many court appearances before any resolution occurs. If you retain a lawyer, they can attend these appearances on your behalf and you do not need to attend court. If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence and would like help navigating the legal system, contact Cassandra or Kristen for a free consultation.