This article will explain what happens with a criminal case after a person is released on bail and until the point where a trial date is scheduled or the case otherwise finishes. Whether you are released after your arrest or detained in custody, the next step will be to appear in “set date court” or first appearance court. The purpose of “set date court” is to make sure your case proceeds through the criminal justice system with the eventual result that your charges will be withdrawn, you will plead guilty or you will have a trial (or a preliminary hearing).
The common practice is to receive disclosure in set date court. After your receive disclosure, you or your lawyer will be given an opportunity to review it and your case will be adjourned for a couple of weeks to allow this to happen. If there is enough disclosure, your lawyer will meet with a crown attorney before your next court date. This meeting is mandatory at all courthouses. At this meeting, the Crown Attorney and the lawyer will discuss any outstanding issues regarding disclosure and will estimate how long a trial will take. If a lawyer has instructions from his client to find out what type of sentence the Crown Attorney would ask for if he pled guilty, then that would be discussed at this meeting. In appropriate cases, this meeting is a good opportunity for a lawyer to persuade a crown attorney to withdraw the case.
At some courthouses and depending on what will happen with your case, the next procedural step is to have a meeting with the Crown Attorney and a Judge. This only happens if the estimate for trial exceeds a certain number of hours – which is different at each courthouse – or if the defence lawyer requests one. This meeting is very similar to the meeting with the Crown Attorney but there is also a judge present. This meeting is called a Judicial Pre-Trial.
After a Judicial Pre-Trial is completed, then your case will be set down for trial, for a preliminary court hearing if applicable, for a guilty plea, your charge will be withdrawn or your case will be adjourned for you to consider your options. If this happens, you will be expected to make up your mind at your next court appearance.
Contact Mr. Luft, a Toronto criminal lawyer, if you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss how Mr. Luft can appear for you in court without you having to appear yourself. Attending court prior to trial can be a very time consuming process. Many set date courts start at 10 am which means that if you have work, you will likely miss at least half of the day if you go to court yourself. Mr. Luft will appear for you so you do not have to. Contact Mr. Luft at 416-433-2402 to schedule a free initial consultation.