Upon being charged with an offence and after dealing with arranging a release and conditions thereof, the accused person is given a first appearance court date. Several court appearances may be required before the matter is either resolved or goes to trial.
It is incumbent on the accused person to ensure that they are properly before the court for each and every court date. This can be accomplished several ways:
1. They can attend in person;
2. If the Crown is proceeding by summary conviction, they can be represented by an agent who can appear on their behalf. However, the judge may require personal attendance in some situations despite the appearance by the agent; or
3. If the accused person retains counsel, counsel can file a designation with the court which allows counsel to attend on behalf of the accused for any appearance where evidence is not being heard.
If an accused person misses a court date, a warrant for their arrest may be issued. The warrant may be discretionary, in which case it will be "on hold" pending a future date to see if the accused person will attend or it may be a straight warrant whereby the accused will be arrested and will likely face the additional charge of failing to attend court.
If convicted of the offence of failing to attend court, the maximum sentence is 6 months in custody if the Crown proceeds by summary conviction, or 2 years in custody if the Crown proceeds by indictment.