COVID-19 and the Ontario Court of Justice and Superior Court of Justice

Criminal courts in Ontario are delaying all appearances in order to prevent further spread of COVID-19 (a.k.a. “coronavirus”).  How your case will proceed during this period will depend on what level of court it is proceeding in. Below is an update on what to expect in the Ontario Court of Justice (the lower criminal court – also known as the “OCJ”), the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (the higher criminal court – also known as the “SCJ”), and the Provincial Offences Act Court (for regulatory matters, such as Highway Traffic offences – also known as the “POA court”).

CRIMINAL CASES IN THE ONTARIO COURT OF JUSTICE (OCJ)

The Ontario Court of Justice is still operating, but its goal is to have as few people in courthouses as possible.

What if I Have an Upcoming Court Date?

If you are not in custody (jail/prison) and have an upcoming court appearance between Monday, March 16, and Friday, April 3, 2020, you do not need to attend (unless the Court has specifically ordered otherwise on or after March 16, 2020).

When Will My Case Be Addressed in Court?

If you do not attend Court on or before April 3, 2020, your case will be rescheduled to another court date 10 weeks from the date of your scheduled appearance. As such, if you do not appear, your case will be rescheduled as follows (unless the Court or your lawyer tells you otherwise):

Scheduled for…

Monday March 16

Tuesday March 17

Wednesday March 18

Thursday March 19

Friday March 20


Monday March 23

Tuesday March 24

Wednesday March 25

Thursday March 26

Friday March 27


Monday March 30

Tuesday March 31

Wednesday April 1

Thursday April 2

Friday April 3

Your matter is rescheduled to

Monday May 25

Tuesday May 26

Wednesday May 27

Thursday May 28

Friday May 29


Monday June 1

Tuesday June 2

Wednesday June 3

Thursday June 4

Friday June 5


Monday June 8

Tuesday June 9

Wednesday June 10

Thursday June 11

Friday June 12

Will I Be Arrested if I Do Not Attend Court?

No. The Court will not order the arrest of anyone who does not attend court between March 16 and April 3, 2020 (unless on or after March 16, 2020, the Court has specifically ordered you to attend)

Instead of ordering your arrest, the Court will order a “bench warrant with discretion”, which will remind the Court to sign the warrant and order your arrest if you do not appear on the rescheduled date.

What if I Need My Matter Addressed Urgently?

Some people may encounter an emergency situation where they must take a step in their case (e.g., enter a plea, get bail, or change a condition of their release). If you urgently need the Court to address your case, a lawyer can arrange to have it addressed before April 3, 2020.

The Court’s trial coordinator will arrange to have a conference with the defence, the prosecutor, and a judge – in what is called a Judicial Pretrial – and will try to arrange for a faster solution.

What if I am in Custody?

If you are in custody (jail/prison) and there is something urgent about your case, the Court can schedule a Judicial Pretrial (a meeting between the defence, the prosecutor, and a judge).

If you are in custody, or are about to be in custody, the Court will try to arrange a bail hearing so you can get out of custody at an earlier time.

If you require a bail/detention review (an appearance for the Court to reassess the conditions of your pre-trial detention), the Court might arrange for an appearance through the use of audioconference or videoconference.

If you are in custody, it will be up to the facility (jail/prison/detention centre) as to whether you will be able to meet with your lawyer in the near future.

What if I Need to File a Document?

If you are required to file documents (e.g., notice of an application for a court order), you can and should file it electronically.

What if Things Get Better?

If circumstances change, the Court may resume normal operations at an earlier time. You should check with your lawyer and/or the Court’s website for updates (https://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/)

CRIMINAL CASES IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE

The Superior Court of Justice will be rescheduling all court appearances between March 17 and June 1, 2020.

What if I Have an Upcoming Court Date?

If your case is in the Superior Court between March 17 and June 1, 2020, you do not need to attend (unless the Court has specifically ordered otherwise on or after March 16, 2020), and the matter will automatically be rescheduled.

When Will My Case Be Addressed in Court?

If you have any type of appearance in the Superior Court, it will be rescheduled as follows (unless the Court or your lawyer tells you otherwise):

– March matters will be rescheduled to June 2, 2020, at 10:00AM

– April matters will be rescheduled to June 3, 2020, at 10:00AM

– May matters will be rescheduled to June 4, 2020, at 10:00AM

Will I Be Arrested if I Do Not Attend Court?

If you do not attend, the Court will not order your arrest (unless on or after March 16, 2020, the Court has specifically ordered you to attend).

Instead of ordering your arrest, the Court will order a “bench warrant with discretion,” which will remind the Court to sign the warrant and order your arrest if you do not appear on the rescheduled date.

What if I Need My Matter Addressed Urgently?

Some people may encounter an emergency situation where they must take a step in their case (e.g., enter a plea, get bail, or change a condition of their release).

If there is something urgent about your case, the Court can address it before June 2, 2020.

Particularly if you are in custody (jail/prison), and there is something urgent about your case, the Court’s trial coordinator can schedule a Judicial Pretrial (a meeting between the defence, the prosecutor, and a judge).

The Court will likely conduct judicial pretrial meetings over the phone.

What if I am in Custody?

A judicial pretrial can be arranged if you urgently need to plead guilty or if you require an urgent bail review or a detention review.

If you require a bail/detention review (an appearance for the Court to reassess the conditions of your pre-trial detention), the Court might arrange for an appearance through audioconference or videoconference.

What if I Need to File a Document?

If you are required to file documents (e.g., notice of an application for a court order), you can and should file it if safe to do so (e.g., electronically).

If it is not safe or possible to file a document, the Court may grant an extension for you to do so.

What if Things Get Better?

If circumstances change, the Court may resume normal operations at an earlier time. You should check with your lawyer and/or the Court’s website for updates (https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/covid-19-suspension-crim/).

If you are in custody, it will be up to the facility (jail/prison/ detention centre) as to whether you will be able to meet with your lawyer in the near future.

PROVINCIAL OFFENCES COURT (POA)

If your case is scheduled to be in Court between March 16 and April 3, 2020, your matter will be adjourned to a later date. You will not need to attend your court date between March 16 and April 3, 2020. Notice of your new court date will be sent to you by mail.

The Court has also extended the timelines for filing of certain types of documents (e.g., Notice of Appeal) until April 23, 2020.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call David or Matthew at David Anber’s law office for more information.