I can’t make it for my court date. What do I do?

3. Find out if you can send someone to court on your behalf

If you can't reschedule your court date and you can't attend yourself, you will need someone to attend on your behalf. The rules about who can appear in court for you, and how they must do that, depend on the type of .

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.

Summary offences

If you're charged with a , or a that will be handled , you can send a lawyer to appear in court for you. Make sure you talk with your lawyer in advance if you can't make a court date.

For some summary offences, you can also send an to appear on your behalf if you can't attend your court date.


An agent can be a family member, paralegal, or friend. The person acting as your agent appears in the court as if they are you. The court treats the situation as if you attended court.

You can only send an agent to court to act for you if you've been charged with a summary offence .

Make sure the person you send as your agent is on time and knows what courtroom to go to.

Hybrid and indictable offences

If the Crown hasn't decided how they will handle your case, the court will handle it by until the Crown decides.

You cannot send an agent to appear for you if you've been charged with an or a hybrid offence that the Crown hasn't made an on. If your case will be handled by indictment, only a lawyer who has filed a can appear in court for you without asking for a .

Designation of counsel

If you're charged with an indictable offence, you can hire a lawyer to appear in court for you. If your lawyer agrees, you can sign a designation of counsel. This designation is filed with the court.

The designation allows your lawyer to appear in court without you and speak on your behalf as if you were there. If your lawyer “appears by designation”, there is no need for a discretionary bench warrant and you will not be arrested. This is because your lawyer has the authority to handle your case as if you were there.

Your lawyer will decide whether to allow you to sign a designation of counsel. Some lawyers don't like designations because they want their clients to make every effort to go to court themselves.

Discretionary bench warrant

If you don't have a lawyer appearing for you on a designation, and you didn't “bring your matter forward” [See Step 1] you should send someone to explain your absence. Send , a friend, a family member, a paralegal, or a lawyer to court. Tell them to explain your absence and ask for a discretionary bench warrant.

The court will decide whether to issue the discretionary bench warrant, or order a bench warrant for your arrest. The court will be more likely to issue a discretionary bench warrant if your absence has been explained. Without an explanation, the court will likely issue a bench warrant for your arrest. This is why it's important to send someone to your court date if you absolutely cannot attend.

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