If you are charged with an offence, you may have to appear in Court.
The police do not have to arrest you to charge you with an offence.
There are 4 ways you can be charged with an offence and made to go to Court:
- the police could arrest you, and keep you in custody until they can take you to Court.
- you could be given a Notice to appear (which is similar to a summons).
- you could be given a Complaint and summons to appear in Court.
- if you decide to oppose an infringement notice (eg attend Court instead of paying a fine).
If you have been charged with an offence and you have to go to Court, you should get legal advice.
Arrest and detention in custody
The police can arrest you and keep you in custody at a watch-house or remand centre until you can be taken to Court.
If you are arrested, the police must take you to Court as soon as reasonably possible so that you can apply for bail. If you are given bail, your bail undertaking will say when you need to go back to Court.
Notice to appear
Instead of being held in custody by the police, you may be given a ‘Notice to appear’—this will tell you when and where you will have to go to Court and what you have been charged with.
Complaint and summons
You can be charged by being given or sent a Complaint and summons —this will tell you when you have to go to Court and what you have been charged with.
Sometimes the police may arrest you, let you go, and then give you a Notice to Appear or send out a Complaint and summons.
Failing to appear
If you do not go to Court on the date printed on your bail undertaking, the Notice to appear or the Complaint and summons, the Court can issue a warrant for your arrest and you may be charged with a further offence called failing to appear. The penalty for this offence can include imprisonment.
For some offences, if you fail to appear, the Court may find you guilty and sentence you in your absence.
You should get legal advice if you are unable to go to Court on your Court date.
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