What to Expect on Your First Day in Court

Many of our clients are always wondering “what is going to happen on my fist day in court”?  At Capulli Law, we prefer to be there with you every step of the way, and the first step is a very important one.  If you do not have legal representation, your first day in court can be a little stressful.  Here are a few key pieces of information designed to help you through your first day in court.

In most courthouses, you will end up having to go to first appearance court.  While having a lawyer with you makes this process easier, and faster, it is not necessary for your first court appearance.   When there, you will most likely be given your initial disclosure.  Initial disclosure is the beginning of the case the Crown has against you. This could be as little as a synopsis of what happened or could include more substantial things like police officer notes or DVD videos of the incident. One thing to note is that the synopsis is usually written by police officers and almost always shows you in the worst possible light.

One of the main parts to initial disclosure is what is known as the charge screening form.  This form will outline what the Crown is seeking upon an early guilty plea.  It will most likely tell you how the crown has elected to proceed, which will be either summarily or by indictment.  Some charge can only proceed one way or the other, but there are some that can go either way.  If a charge can proceed either way, then proceeding summarily usually carries a more lenient sentence than proceeding by indictment.  The charge screening form could also tell you the jail sentence, if there is one, any fines that may be levied, and the length of any probation that may be imposed.  It is a basic starting point for you to see what options are available for resolution.

On your first appearance, a judge may also want to know if you are in the process of retaining counsel or not.  The court wants to make sure that you are properly represented.   While representing yourself is an option, it is not always the best one, especially if facing very serious charges. Courts prefer being represented by a lawyer as a lawyer can fully inform you of what your options are and the best way to proceed.

Finally, after being given your initial disclosure and your next court date, you may be able to qualify for legal aid.  The requirements for legal aid can be found on their website (www.legalaid.on.ca).  If you are preparing to make your first appearance, do not hesitate to contact us.  At Capulli Law, our criminal lawyers who service the Greater Toronto Area are always willing to walk someone through their first appearance, even if they have no intention of retaining us.  Our criminal lawyers understand that this will be a very stressful experience.  Having one of our knowledgeable criminal lawyers in your corner will help alleviate this stress.