How Are Criminal Offences in Toronto Being Handled During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

PUBLISHED ON April 18, 2020

Back in March, the Ontario Court of Justice decided to suspend all non-urgent criminal proceedings until after May 29, 2020.  This date has since been amended.  Criminal offences, like impaired driving, shoplifting, drug offences, youth court cases, and so on, will still be heard, but it will not be until July or later this year.

In the meantime, you are required to adhere to all terms and conditions of your bail release. You should check with your Toronto criminal defence lawyer to verify when your next scheduled appearance in Court will be.

What About Urgent Criminal Offences?

The Court is still holding hearings for urgent criminal matters. Unless otherwise ordered by a judicial official, the Court proceedings will occur via telephone and/or video conferencing. Attendance in courtrooms for amatters will be restricted to the judicial official and essential court staff, unless a judicial official orders otherwise.

For all criminal proceedings including jury trials, safe social distancing measures have been put into place. The Courts will not allow anyone to attend court opening, unless they are essential to the proceeding.  No jury trials will be commencing until September, 2020 at the earliest.

Can I Still Be Arrested by the Police?

If you are suspected of committing a criminal offence and the police have the requisite grounds, you can still be arrested and charged. For example, you can also be arrested and charged for impaired driving offences including impairment by alcohol and impairment by drugs. The law is not taking a holiday just because of the pandemic. All people are still required to adhere to and follow all laws.

Are Bail Hearings Being Conducted?

Bail hearings are still being conducted as it is the right of the accused to seek bail. The police do have the power to release people arrested and charged with certain minor criminal offences without a formal bail hearing.  Bail hearings are being conducted via teleconferencing with very few, if any, exceptions.

What If Remaining Employed Was a Condition of Bail, But I’m Laid Off?

If you were furloughed or laid off from your job and remaining employed is a condition of bail, you need to call your criminal defence lawyer immediately to discuss this particular issue.

What If I Need Criminal Offence Legal Advice?

Criminal defence lawyers are still working and available to provide legal advice. However, many law firms are conducting consultations via telephone or teleconferencing currently. If you need a lawyer present for police questioning in a criminal matter, contact a criminal defence lawyer to discuss this issue.

This is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice.  It should not be acted on as such.  For sound legal advice and legal representation for criminal offences in Toronto and the GTA, please feel free to contact criminal defence lawyer, Brian Ross at (416) 658-5855 today!


A criminal record can have lifelong ramifications. Don't take a chance with an inexperienced attorney. I will fight to get your life back as I have done with countless others before you.

(416) 658-5855

Brian Ross is a founding partner at Canada’s largest criminal Law firm, Rusonik, O’Connor, Robbins, Ross & Angelini, LLP. Prior to founding this firm, Brian was a partner at Pinkofskys, a leading law firm famous for its vigorous defence of its clients.

Selected for the 2022, 2023, and 2024 editions of the Best Lawyers in Canada

Inclusion in the Best Lawyers in Canada is based on a rigorous peer-review survey. Recognition by Best Lawyers symbolizes excellence in practice and specifically, high calibre work in criminal defence.


Mr. Ross is a member of the Criminal Lawyer’s Association and Legal Aid Ontario’s “Extremely Serious Matters” Panel, consisting of criminal lawyers deemed to have the proven experience necessary to conduct trials in the most serious of criminal matters.


You will be contacted to discuss the case in confidence.