A “Court Attendance Notice” (CAN) is a document prepared by police setting out the charges the alleged offender faces and advising them of the court date and location of their first appearance. It can be a daunting and confusing experience receiving a CAN, and it is important to understand what is a court attendance notice, and how you should respond to ensure you receive the most favourable outcome in the legal matter. It is always best to seek legal advice after you have received a court attendance notice.

What is a Court Attendance Notice? 1

When will I receive a CAN?

Anyone who has been charged with a criminal offence in NSW, regardless of severity, and is to appear in court will be issued with a Court Attendance Notice (CAN). 

You may be issued with a court attendance notice in various circumstances, including: 

  • From the police when being charged with a traffic or criminal offence 
  • If you elect to take a penalty/infringement notice or parking fine to the court 

Most commonly, individuals will receive a CAN by mail; however, it may also be served to you or handed directly to you by the police.  Depending on the severity of the charges, an individual may be issued a court attendance notice given after the incident, known as a future CAN.


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Field Court Attendance Notice

A Field CAN is one which is given to an individual at the scene/ the time of the event. Similarly to a regular CAN, a field CAN will specify the charges you are facing and the date and location you are to attend court. However, there is no fact sheet delivered with a field CAN and is instead provided in court or delivered to the accused via mail. 

Bail Court Attendance Notice

If an individual has been released on bail awaiting a court date, they will receive a bail court attendance notice that is generally issued to them at the police station. These CANs will contain attached bail conditions, which the accused would be required to agree to and sign before being released from custody.

Requirements of a CAN

A Court Attendance Notice must display the following information:

  1. A description of the offence/s you are charged with
  2. A brief statement of the particulars of the offence/s (e.g. time, location)
  3. The details of the police involved in your matter
  4. A date, time and place for you to appear before the court
  5. A statement that if you fail to appear in court on the date, time and place specified, you may have a warrant issued for your arrest or the matter may be dealt with in your absence.

They will also typically come with a police fact sheet outlining the police account of the offences. 

What is a Court Attendance Notice? 2

What do I do now?

When you receive a CAN it is important you seek advice from experienced legal professionals, such as the team at Hamilton Janke Lawyers, to assist you throughout the court process and ensure you receive the best possible outcome.

Attending Court

When you appear in court on the date listed on your CAN your matter will be ‘mentioned’ before a magistrate in the local court. When you attend court, you can either plead ‘guilty’, ‘not guilty’ or request an adjournment to obtain legal advice. If you are granted an adjournment, the matter will return to court for a second mention at which you or your lawyer can enter your plea. 

If you have yet to obtain legal representation, you can indicate this to the magistrate as a reason for adjourning. If granted, this gives you the time to receive proper legal advice before entering a plea. 

It is necessary you understand the charges against you and seek the advice of experts such as the lawyers at Hamilton Janke Lawyers to ensure you understand the ramifications of your plea. If you enter a guilty plea, your case will progress to sentencing and you will be liable to a mitigated sentence for an early plea. In NSW, the maximum sentencing discount in these circumstances is 25%. Alternatively, if you plead not guilty, your matter will progress to a Hearing/Trial, where your guilt will be determined based on the facts of the case by either a magistrate or Judge and Jury (in most cases). 

Key Takeaways

What happens if I don’t attend court?

Either you or your lawyer must attend your court hearing. If you, and your lawyer, fail to show up for court, the case could be decided in your absence. If you are on bail, it will likely be a condition for you to attend your court mention physically.

Written By
Picture of James Janke
James Janke

James Janke is founding partner at Hamilton Janke Lawyers, and has more then decade of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. Admitted to both the Supreme Court of New South Wales and High Court of Australia