The next stage in the criminal justice system following your release is your First Appearance. Your first appearance will be outlined in your release documentation and will contain a date, time, courtroom and courthouse address. In most cases the courthouse will be in the same region where any offence(s) are alleged to have occurred. If you have been charged with an indictable offence, the police will also require that you provide them with your fingerprints and photographs, pursuant to the Criminal Records Act. Failure to Attend your First Appearance or your fingerprint/photograph date is a serious criminal offence. It is of utmost importance that you attend for your fingerprints and photographs. If you hire a lawyer, your attendance may not be necessary in court. At our firm, each of our clients signs what is called a Designation of Counsel, which allows Michael P. Juskey to appear in court for you on the First Appearance and thereafter.
The First Appearance is strictly administrative in nature and it is uncommon for anything of substance to occur. The Canadian criminal justice system does not require that defendants be ‘arraigned’ on their first court appearance. An arraignment is when a defendant is required to enter a plea of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ with respect to the allegations before the Court.
When you or your lawyer attend the first court appearance, the crown attorney will provide Disclosure. In most cases the matter will be adjourned for several weeks to allow the defence to review these materials, which will be discussed in the next section.