When you read the first appearance date on the papers from the police, don’t panic. This is not a trial date. The first appearance date is simply the day that you have to appear in court so that the court knows that you are dealing with your criminal charges. This date is merely the first time that you have to appear in court, and you will likely have a few other court appearances before an actual trial date is set. The reason for such preliminary court appearances is so that you have time to hire a lawyer, to allow time for the prosecution to gather their evidence and to provide you and your lawyer with what they have found (disclosure).
The first appearance date is also often referred to as a “remand date”. At this remand date appearance, a number of individuals will be called before the court. The purpose of this brief session is to make sure that individuals charged with an offence are aware of their charges and are prepared to move forward. At remand court, you will not be required to enter a plea and the prosecution will not present any evidence or question witnesses or you. Remember, this is not a trial date, but simply an initial court appearance to begin the process of addressing your charges.
While your first appearance date is mandatory, by signing a designation of counsel, your criminal defence lawyer may be able appear in court on your behalf. This means that you do not actually have to go to court, since your lawyer will do so for you. As long as the appropriate paperwork has been signed and presented to the court, your lawyer can attend court for the first appearance date without you. Your time is better spent working, attending school and dealing with other responsibilities. This is one example that demonstrates the importance of hiring a criminal defence lawyer as soon as you are charged with a criminal offence. The lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth will be able to advise you about whether or not you need to attend this first appearance. You can be confident that the criminal defence lawyers at Auger Hollingsworth will be prepared to assist you during this time by preparing you for your initial appearance or by acting on your behalf.