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Attending court: information for accused

This guide provides general information for those charged with an offence and provides links to other sources of information for accused persons.

Important

COPFS is Scotland's independent prosecution service and therefore, we cannot give legal advice or opinion. If you are accused of a crime you can obtain legal advice from any solicitor in Scotland and the Law Society of Scotland may be able to recommend a criminal solicitor.

Receiving a letter to attend court

If you have been accused of a crime you may receive a letter from COPFS, which is called a citation, this will tell you:

  • what you are being charged with
  • which court will deal with your case
  • the date for any initial court proceedings

This is the time to tell us if you need help in another language or you cannot understand our letter. Please contact our Enquiry Point to request information in a different format.

If you do not attend

If you do not attend when told to by the court, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.

Finding a solicitor

If you have been charged with an offence you may wish to seek legal advice and/or instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf.

You can contact the following organisations for advice:

  • Law Society of Scotland: Solicitors-led organisation offering legal advice. You can find a solicitor by postcode or area of law, e.g. criminal law.
  • Public Defence Solicitor's Office (PDSO): A national team of publicly funded, specialist criminal defence lawyers with experience of dealing with all types of criminal cases.

Legal aid

COPFS does not give advice on legal aid. Information is available from the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

You should speak to your lawyer regarding eligibility for legal aid.

Arriving at court

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals website has information regarding attendance at court. This includes information on local courts, maps, and advice on disabled access.

Support at court

If you need help to come to court, you should tell your solicitor who can make sure that arrangements are in place if, for example, you:

  • are a wheelchair user
  • have a learning disability
  • have difficulty seeing or hearing
  • have a medical condition that means you need to take something during the trial
  • need an interpreter for another language, including BSL.

Young people who are prosecuted in court

For children/young persons accused of a crime, information on court proceedings should be sought from your legal representative.

COPFS refers cases involving young people to the Scottish Children’s Reporter. This may result in a children’s hearing instead of a court case. For more information, visit their websites:

Accused persons with learning disabilities

Fitness

The judge will want to know that accused persons are fit to stand trial, and witnesses are fit to address the court. They can find this out by getting the opinion of a specialist.

Assessment

A psychiatrist can assess mental health and see if the person is able to plead in court. A psychologist may check if the person can work things out and follow what is happening in court. These specialists can then advise the judge, who will decide how the case goes ahead.

Further information

There is more information about your rights if you're arrested or charged with a crime on mygov.scot.

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