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What should I do after speaking to duty counsel on my first appearance date?

You should immediately go into the courtroom, wait for your name to be called, and be prepared to tell the judge what you want to do with your case.

There are many different things that you may want to do with your case. What you do depends on your situation and the legal advice that you receive. You should always think carefully about what you want to do and get legal advice before you make a decision. If you don’t know what to tell the judge, duty counsel may be able to assist you by speaking to the judge for you. Because they are lawyers, duty counsel may be able to explain your situation to the judge in a manner that protects your rights.

Here are some examples of requests that may be made on a first appearance date:

  • Let the judge know you are looking for more information from the Crown before you can make a decision;
  • Ask the judge to adjourn your case to later date so that you can have some time to retain (hire) a lawyer;
  • Ask the judge to adjourn your case because you need to get reference letters, complete community service hours or counselling so that the Crown will withdraw your charge(s);
  • Ask the judge to adjourn your case so you can take  time to consider the legal advice that you received from duty counsel;
  • Tell the judge that you would like to have a trial in your case and that you would like to set a trial date;
  • Tell the judge you would like to have your case sent to guilty plea court so that you can plead guilty to your charge(s).

Note: Pleading guilty is a serious decision. You should only do this if you have received legal advice from your lawyer or duty counsel.