A person is either arrested or served a document ordering his appearance in court. If he is served the document, it must delineate the alleged charge, as well as the date, time and location of the Initial Court Appearance. The accused will be required to be photographed and have fingerprints taken before the first appearance or at the time of their arrest.
After the first appearance, further court appearances are scheduled. If the accused intends to plead not guilty, then usually a judicial pre-trial is conducted. A judicial pre-trial consists of a meeting, usually in the judges’ chambers (i.e. office) to fully discuss all aspects of the case, including discussing the factual and legal issues involved, whether the case is resolveable, and to manage court time. The actual trial is finally scheduled following the judicial pre-trial. In the Ontario Court of Justice, trials usually take place many months after the first appearance. For more serious indictable criminal charges such as sexual assault, aggravated assault, or murder, the preliminary hearing also takes place many months after the first court appearance, if the accused elects to have a preliminary hearing in the Ontario Court of Justice. The matter will then proceed to assignment court in the Superior Court of Justice where the trial is eventually set many months down the road.
A month or two before the trial, a confirmation hearing is usually scheduled to make sure that the trial is going to proceed as initially planned.