What happens at my first Court date?

If you are required to go to Court by either a Notice to Appear or a complaint and summons, this information may be of use to you.  This information is about what might happen at your first Court appearance.  

Anyone charged with an offence will ordinarily appear in the Magistrates Court first before their charge proceeds to any other Court or jurisdiction.  The type of charge you are facing will determine whether or not you need to go to a District or Supreme Court or whether you can remain in the Magistrates Court to have your matter finalised.  

On your first Court date, if you do not have a lawyer, it can be extremely daunting.  You should turn up early to your Court date.  Missing a Court date may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.  

Once you are in the Courthouse, you should find the Courtroom and approach the Prosecutor or the Court staff who may be able to assist you.  Speak with the person about what you intend to do.  

If you are speaking with a Prosecutor prior to Court, either a Police Prosecutor or a representative from the Director of Public Prosecutions, you should be very brief about what you tell that person if you intend to plead not guilty.  We have had the experience of people not understanding that the person they were speaking to was the Prosecutor.  You could be careful to ensure you know who you are speaking with and their role within the Court system.  

If the Prosecutor or a Court staff members indicates to you that you should or could plead guilty, you should understand that a plea of guilty must be made of your own free will.  If you do not understand what you are pleading guilty to, you should obtain legal advice.  

If you are facing Court and even if you think the charge is minor, it is important that you obtain legal advice to understand what penalty or outcome you might be facing.  The impact of criminal convictions are extremely far reaching and may effect your employment, your travel plans or your lifestyle in a way you did not anticipate.  If you are unsure or concerned about how your charges might impact on your life, you should seek legal advice.  

If you want to put your matter off to another date, you should seek an adjournment.  When your matter is brought on before the Magistrate, be respectful and confirm to the Court that you are the defendant.  Ask for an adjournment and say to the Magistrate why you want the adjournment.  A good example of a reason why you might want an adjournment is to obtain legal advice.  If you say that you will be obtaining legal advice you should ensure that you do so because if you go to Court again and have not obtained advice, the Court might be critical of you.  

Once you ask the Court for an adjournment the Magistrate will decide whether to grant it for you.  The Magistrate, if they grant the adjournment, is likely to then place you on a bail undertaking.  A bail undertaking is a promise to come back to Court and comply with any conditions on your bail undertaking.  You must sign your bail undertaking before you leave Court.  If you do not sign it, a warrant may be issued for your arrest and you will be arrested by Police and brought back before the Court.  

At Robertson O’Gorman we represent people in relation to all charges, both simple or minor offences and major or serious offences.  It is important for each person before a Court to understand their options before they go to Court.  

If you or a family member requires legal advice, please contact one of our solicitors today. 

If you have a question you would like to ask one of our solicitors please contact us today.