FAQ: Persons Accused of a Crime

I've been charged with a crime by the police. What happens next?

Normally, the police will provide you with written direction to appear in court for arraignment—having the charge read to you. You may also be required to go to the police station for fingerprinting.

Who represents my interests?

You may retain a defence lawyer or you may be eligible for a Legal Aid lawyer, provided at public expense. You also have the option to represent yourself.

Can the charges against me be dropped before I go to court? How?

It is up to the Crown Attorney whether the case will go ahead. The Crown Attorney will proceed if the evidence points to a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute.

What happens if I plead not guilty?

A date for trial will be set.

What happens if I plead guilty?

A sentencing hearing will be held. It may be held immediately or court may be adjourned after a date for a sentencing hearing is set.

If I no longer live in Nova Scotia how do I get charges against me transferred to where I now live?

The matter can only be transferred if you intend to plead guilty. Consult a lawyer in the province or territory in which you now live.

How do I get charges against me in another province transferred to Nova Scotia?

The matter can only be transferred if you intend to plead guilty. Consult a lawyer in Nova Scotia or contact your local Crown Attorney's office to request the appropriate form.

I am representing myself in court. How do I get my court papers (disclosure)?

Contact the Crown Attorney's office. The office usually requires a two day notice. You must pick up your disclosure package in person after presenting two pieces of identification.

I have a lawyer. How do I get disclosure?

Your lawyer will handle that.

I can't get an appointment with my lawyer until after my first court date. What should I do?

If you don't come to court, a warrant for your arrest may be issued. If you appear in court you will have an opportunity to explain to the judge your efforts to hire a lawyer.

I forgot about my court date and missed it. What do I do?

Call your lawyer. If you don't have one, call the court office.

I'm sick (or have a family emergency) and cannot make it to court today. What should I do?

Call your lawyer. If you don't have a lawyer, call the court office. A warrant could be issued for your arrest if you don't appear and if you don't contact anyone to explain your absence.

I think there's an outstanding warrant for me. How do I find out?

Call the court office.

If I appear on a warrant what will happen?

You will be taken into custody. There may be an immediate bail hearing to decide upon your release or detention.

The records show there is a warrant but it should have been cancelled. What do I do?

Only a judge is able to cancel a warrant. Contact the court office or the Crown Attorney for assistance.

How do I pay a fine?

Check with the court.

How do I apply for a pardon?

Contact the National Parole Board.