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There are Nova Scotia Legal Aid Duty Counsel services free legal advice for your court appearance for that day are available at most courts. In many cases, if you plead guilty, there may only be one court appearance. In most cases where you plead not guilty, there are at least two court appearances. For example, you might ask the judge for an adjournment to give you time to get legal advice.

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This is often called the arraignment date. Nova Scotia Legal Aid has an Arraignment fact sheet. The first appearance usually lasts no more than five to ten minutes. There will be a number of cases being dealt with by the court on the same day. Listen carefully so that you can hear when the court clerk calls your case. Cases where the accused has a lawyer are usually called first. The remaining matters are then called in alphabetical order.

The court clerk will read out your name.

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You should walk to the front of the court where the judge can see you. The court clerk will read the " information ", which contains the charge against you. The judge will ask you if you understand the charge. Tell the judge if you do not understand and he or she will explain it to you. If you do understand say so. When you have told the judge that you understand the charge, he or she will ask you if you plead guilty or not guilty and how you elect choose to be tried.

The judge will say "Are you prepared to plead?


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Pleading guilty means that you admit that you committed the offence you are charged with. Your choices are: 1. You can plead not guilty. The judge will then set a trial date.

You can ask for a delay called an adjournment if you need time to speak with a lawyer. You can plead guilty. If you are not sure how to plead, the judge may adjourn the matter and give you time to speak with a lawyer, or enter a not guilty plea and set a date for trial.

It is your decision how you plead. Even if you decide not to hire a lawyer to represent you in court, you should get some legal advice about your situation before you decide how to plead.

It is extremely important that you get disclosure from the Crown, and review it with a lawyer if possible, before you enter a plea. If you plead guilty the judge may sentence you then or set a date for sentencing. You or the Crown Attorney may ask the judge to order a background report be prepared on you. This is called a pre-sentence report and is prepared by a probation officer. Click here for information about sentencing. Election With some indictable offences, you may elect choose how to be tried.

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This means you elect whether to be tried in. If your case is adjourned postponed to allow you to get legal advice, the judge will set a date for another hearing. It will follow much the same procedure as that for a first appearance. Be sure that you arrange to see a lawyer as soon as possible. Do not leave it until the day before your next court date. If you plead guilty and the judge sets a date for sentencing, the next court date will deal with sentencing. If you plead not guilty, the next court hearing will likely be the trial or a preliminary hearing and that may be several months after the first court appearance.

Again, you should be sure to get some legal advice before your trial or preliminary hearing. Whatever the reason for the second court date, the judge will choose a date that is acceptable to you and the Crown Attorney and that fits in the court schedule.

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Be sure you know if there are dates when you are not available so that you can tell the judge. Write down the date and time that you will need to be in court again.

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If you are unsure you can phone the court office and ask the court clerk to check it for you. You will find court contact information at www. The judge The judge decides, based on the evidence presented in court, whether the case has been proved against you beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are found guilty, the judge decides what sentence to give you. The judge sits at the front of the court room. He or she usually wears a black robe in court.

In Provincial Court there are no juries. Crown Attorney The Crown Attorney is a lawyer who presents the case against you. He or she usually sits at a table at the front of the courtroom facing the judge. The Crown Attorney's job is to prepare the case against you and present the evidence to prove that you committed the offence. The Public Prosecution Service of Canada prosecutes criminal offences under federal jurisdiction, including cases involving drugs, organized crime, terrorism, tax law, money laundering and proceeds of crime.

Go to gov. Court Clerk The court clerk sits at a table in front of the judge facing the public. He or she calls the court to order, receives physical evidence such as papers presented in court these are called exhibits , calls and swears in witnesses, writes down any orders made by the judge, and ensures that what is said in court during a trial is recorded on audio tape.

The Accused or Defendant The person who is charged with the offence is called the "accused" or "defendant".

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You have a right to be in court at any time when your case is being dealt with. When your case is called, you should walk to the front of the courtroom and identify yourself. During a trial you should sit near the front of the court so that you can hear everything that is going on. Witnesses Usually, during the first court appearance there are no witnesses. They will be needed later during the trial to give evidence of what they know about the case.

Both you and the Crown Attorney may call witnesses and cross-examine each other's witnesses if you choose to. If you call a witness who is then cross-examined by the Crown Attorney, you may ask the witness further questions based on his or her answers during cross-examination. This is called redirect evidence. Courtworkers In larger centres there may be community groups who provide courtworkers to help individuals through the court process. They cannot give you legal advice. They can help explain what will happen in court, provide support, and help you contact legal and community services.