How are people charged with offences brought to court?
People who are charged with offences may receive a Summons, a doucment with which the court orders them to appear. If the person has been arrested by the police and released with an obligation to attend court at a later date, then the person will receive either an Appearance Notice or a Promise to Appear. The judge may also issue a Warrant of Arrest for the person if the person cannot otherwise be compelled to attend court.
What will happen if a person does not appear in court when required to do so?
If a person fails to appear in court in answer to a Summons, Appearance Notice, or a Promise to Appear, the judge may issue a Warrant for that person's arrest, or if there is good reason shown for the person's non-appearance, then the judge may issue another Summons. It is a criminal offence to fail to appear in court when required to do so and conviction for such an offence may result in a fine, a jail sentence, or both.
What happens on a person's first appearance in Provincial Court?
When a person charged with an offence appears in court for the first time, that person is entitled to receive disclosure, that is, to be made aware of the evidence and information upon which the Prosecution will be relying in order to prove the charge. The person may consult Legal Aid Duty Counsel, or a lawyer of his or her own choice before entering a plea. The Information (charge) is read, Election (if applicable) is given, a plea is taken if the person is ready, before which an adjournment may be granted if necessary, and a trial date may be set if a plea of not guilty is entered. If the person enters a plea of guilty at the first appearance he or she may be sentenced at that time or a date for sentence may be set if necessary.
Does a person brought to court under arrest have to stay in jail until the matter is concluded?
If a person charged with an offence is in custody when he or she first appears before the Court, then the Prosecution is given time (3 clear days) during which to produce evidence at a hearing (Bail Hearing) to show cause why the person should be held in custody until the matter is concluded. The judge, upon hearing evidence at the hearing will determine whether the detention in custody of the person is necessary in accordance with certain criteria set out in the Criminal Code.
How is the judge addressed in Provincial Court?
A Provincial Court Judge is referred to as: "Your Honour".
Is free legal advice always available in Provincial Court?
Legal Aid Duty Counsel is usually available at first appearance, before plea, for bail or sentence hearings and, if approved by Legal Aid New Brunswick, for trials.
If I cannot get a lawyer, can I represent myself in Court?
Yes. See Self Represented Litigants
How does a trial proceed in Provincial Court?
The Prosecution is required to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. To do this the Prosecutor, called the Crown Prosecutor, or "The Crown" for short, will call witnesses to testify, or tell what they know about the matter. This testimony is given under oath or by solemn affirmation, or if the witness is a child, by promising to tell the truth. Once the Crown Prosecutor asks all the questions he or she believes are important to proving the case, then the Defendant (or his lawyer) conducts Cross Examination; that is, asks the witness any relevant questions he or she believes are important to bring out more information that will help establish the defence in the case. This continues until all the Crown witnesses have been called. At that point, if there has been evidence presented tending to establish all the elements of the offence, such as the date, place, identity of the offender, and the particulars of the offence, then the Defendant will be asked if he or she wishes to present any evidence. This evidence may be by way of witnesses, photographs, documents or otherwise. The Defendant is not required to present evidence or to testify. To do so or not is the absolute choice of the Defendant. All defence witnesses, including the Defendant if he or she decides to testify, are subject to being cross examined by the Crown Prosecutor. Once all the evidence both for the Crown and for the Defence has been called, each side is given the opportunity to sum up its position. The Judge then decides whether the evidence proves the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. If it does, the Defendant will be found "guilty" of the offence. If it does not, the Defendant will be found "not guilty" of the offence.
If I am a victim of a crime and am required to attend court as a witness, what should I do?
See the following pamphlets available online from the Public Legal Education and Information Services (PLEIS):
- Being a Witness
- Services For Victims of Crime
- Services for Victims of Crime Information Card
- Victim Impact Statements: Only YOU know how this crime affects you
Do I get paid to come to court as a witness?
See the following pamphlet available online from the Public Legal Education and Information Services (PLEIS):
How should I appear in Provincial Court?
Dress as you would to attend a job interview or to go to a religious service. For example, short shorts, tank tops, "muscle shirts", "belly shirts" or bare feet are not appropriate. Remove baseball caps or other hats before going into court (religious headwear excepted). Take off sunglasses when appearing before the Judge. Remove chewing gum before appearing before the Judge. Turn off your cellular phone before going into the courtroom.