Understanding a Summons to Appear in Court in Ontario

Receiving a summons to attend court in Ontario can be a daunting experience. Let’s break down what it means and how to approach it:

The Contents of a Summons

  • Your Personal Information: A summons typically includes your name and the specific charge you are facing.
  • Command to Attend: Instead of indicating a fine, it serves as a directive for you to appear in court. You have two options for attending court: in person or by designating a representative to appear on your behalf.

Seek Professional Guidance

  • Legal Counsel: For serious charges, (ie. Careless Driving) you will be served a summons, indicating the gravity of the situation. In such cases, it’s highly advisable to seek professional representation.
  • Experienced Assistance: Consult with a paralegal experienced in handling similar cases. They can guide you through the process and help you understand the best course of action.
  • Charge Disclosure: While the summons specifies the charge, it does not provide evidence of what transpired. Your representative will play a pivotal role in gathering and presenting evidence in your favor.

Court Proceedings

  • Higher-Level Court: When you receive a summons, you are entering a higher level of the provincial offenses court system. This often involves the participation of a crown attorney and may lead to discussions about potential penalties, including the possibility of incarceration.
  • Importance of Professional Representation: Given the seriousness of these proceedings, attempting to handle the matter on your own is not recommended. Legal representation can be instrumental in safeguarding your rights and ensuring a fair outcome.

Explore Your Options

  • Free Consultation: Consider reaching out to OTD Legal for a free consultation. This initial step can provide valuable insights into your rights, options, and the kind of assistance you may need to address a significant legal matter.

Receiving a summons to appear in court is a crucial moment that demands a strategic and informed approach. Whether you decide to engage a representative or explore the legal process yourself, understanding your rights and the nature of the charges is essential.


Video Transcription:

You’ve received a summons to attend court in Ontario. The question becomes: “what does that mean?” A summons, if you read it, it will have your name on it. It will have what you’re charged with. You will not see a fine there. It’ll just simply be a command statement that you must attend court. We know that you can attend court in person or you can elect someone else to do that for you.

That may be a lawyer, that may be a paralegal. When a charge is serious, you will be served what’s called a summons. What you would do with that at that point in time is consider consulting with someone who’s faced this before. You’re going to want to talk to someone who has some experience and knowledge on what exactly needs to be done with the charge. 

The summons itself will disclose exactly what charge you are facing. It will not have any evidence of what actually happened. That will be determined by your advocate or paralegal that is attempting to help you with this charge. It’s not a charge, when they’re proceeding by summons, that I would recommend you attend court on your own.

You’re going into a higher level of court within the provincial offenses court system, one in which you usually have the crown attorney be involved and you know that the penalties, including possible period of incarceration, might be included in the discussions. These are situations when it’s generally never recommended that you try to deal with this matter on your own.

I would suggest whenever this happens, at the very least, you may want to try to deal with us on your own, but it would certainly not hurt you to go through a free consultation to know what your options are, your rights are, and how you can get some assistance in dealing with a matter such as serious as this might be.

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