As a criminal case moves through the system, an accused will be required to appear before the court on several occasions. The majority of these appearances are what are known as set date appearances, or cases management appearances. The first of these case management appearances is known as the first appearance.
When an individual is charged with a criminal offence, they will be provided with release documents or a summons. These documents will contain, among other things, the accused’s first appearance court date, time, and location. The first appearance date will generally be several weeks after the individual is charged and will be held in the jurisdiction in which the alleged crime was committed. For example, if an accused is alleged to have assaulted someone in Brampton, they will be charged in Brampton and their first appearance will happen at the Brampton courthouse. Typically, a Justice of the Peace will preside over a first appearance, though it may be a judge in some circumstances.
The purpose of a first appearance date is to bring the accused before the court to update all parties on the status of the case. The appearance is essentially an administrative appearance; nothing substantive will occur. When the matter is called, the court will inquire about whether the accused has a lawyer and if so, who the lawyer is. If the accused already hired a lawyer prior to the first appearance date, their lawyer may appear on their behalf.
More Legal Information
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