Following your arrest and after being charged with a criminal offence, you will be given a first court date. At the London courthouse, this will be in courtroom number 5. As soon as possible following you release, you should contact a lawyer to arrange a meeting to discuss your file. If you have not met with and retained a lawyer either privately or through legal aid, you will need to attend at your court appearance on the date specified. If you do not attend on that day, you may receive a new criminal charge of failing to attend. If you have not yet had time to meet with a lawyer prior to your first court date, you may attend at the courthouse yourself and speak with duty counsel who will assist you. You may then request an adjournment to allow you to select and retain a lawyer.
If you have missed a court date, you should get in touch with legal counsel immediately to try to rectify the situation. After you have hired a lawyer and signed a designation of counsel, your lawyer is permitted to appear on your behalf in court, and if the court date is missed for any reason you will not be penalized. This is why, as soon as you have been charged with any criminal offence, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as you can.
Ron Ellis is a criminal defence lawyer based in London, Ontario and practices criminal defence law all over Southwestern Ontario, including Grand Bend, Sarnia, Woodstock and Kitchener.