1. Go to your first court date

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Criminal Law - Going to criminal court

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What happens on my first court date for a criminal offence?
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1. Go to your first court date

You should have a document with the date, time, and location of your first court date. This document might be called:

Legal help

You may hire a lawyer before your first court date.

If your lawyer is going to court for you, you may not have to go to court. Check with your lawyer to find out if you must be there. Do not assume just because you have a lawyer that you don't need to go to court. Unless your lawyer says you don't need to be there, you must be at court on the date shown in your document.

If you don't have a lawyer, you can ask duty counsel to help you in the courtroom.

If you can't go to court on that day, and you haven't hired a lawyer, call your local duty counsel office. They may be able to help you get an earlier court date.

Going to court

Make sure you get to court early. This will give you time to find your courtroom and talk to duty counsel if you need to.

When you enter the courthouse, you will have to walk through a security scanner. Do not bring weapons, sharp objects, or any illegal item(s) with you to court.  You may be asked to empty your pockets or show the court officers the contents of your purse. 

The document with your first court date will have the courtroom number. There is usually a list posted outside the courtroom door with the names of people appearing in court that day. If you can't find your courtroom, ask for help at the criminal clerk's office in the courthouse.

When you enter the courtroom, find a seat behind where the lawyers sit. The justice of the peace sits at the front and is in charge of the courtroom. They wear a green sash.

Turn off your cell phone or put the ringer on silent. You must remove anything covering your head that isn't worn for religious purposes.

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Reviewed: November 20, 2017

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