The COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay in criminal proceedings in Toronto Courts, as well as Ontario Courts. During the past several months the Courts have only been addressing urgent matters relating to criminal proceedings, like bail hearings.
However, the Courts have worked tirelessly to develop new protocols to safely hear criminal offence cases and conduct criminal trials. These processes are being gradually rolled out in phases. It is anticipated by mid-to late-August, all criminal proceedings will resume a more normal schedule.
If you had a criminal proceeding that was delayed due to the coronavirus, you need to make sure to contact your Toronto criminal defence lawyer regularly to find out when your next hearing will be in Court.
Depending on the type of criminal offence, you may not have to appear in Court physically. There is a new Virtual Criminal Case Management Courts Pilot program that will hear cases virtually for certain types of offences and hearings. If your case qualifies, you can attend Court virtually using video conference and teleconference options.
Other Courts are allowing defendants the option to waive their right to an appearance in Court and allow their criminal defence lawyer to appear in their place. This option mainly applies to defendants that are still in custody.
Presently, most criminal cases have been postponed until late-August. The rescheduling of those cases should start to occur sometime in early to mid-August. It is important to remember you are on bail and there are specific conditions you must to which you must adhere while on bail. If you violate those conditions, you could be detained in custody, pending your criminal proceeding in Court.
If you do need to appear in court for your criminal case, you will need to review and follow all safety protocols established by the Court. For instance, some Courts are limiting who can enter the Courthouse to just the defendant and their criminal defence lawyer.
Facemasks will be required to be worn in most areas inside the Courthouse with the social distancing of 2 meters, whenever possible. Your lawyer will review the safety requirements with you before your appearance in court if you cannot attend virtually.
With the rescheduled cases, Courts will most likely conduct hearings and trials based upon the seriousness of the offence and the length of time the proceeding has been delayed due to COVID-19. It is important to not assume your proceedings will continue to be delayed because they are not as serious as other crimes.
As such, if you haven’t spoken with your criminal defence lawyer lately, now is a good time to call their office and verify if there has been any update on your proceedings.
This brief memo is not intended to, nor should it be acted upon, as legal advice. If you have been arrested and charged with a criminal offence in Toronto or the GTA, you need sound legal advice on how to fight the charges. Please feel free to contact Toronto criminal defence lawyer, Brian Ross at (416) 658-5855 to schedule a consultation today!