The response of Ontario criminal courts to the pandemic has been to cease all non-essential operations and appearances. As discussed below, criminal cases can proceed in two different levels of court: the Ontario Court of Justice (the lower court – also known as “OCJ”) and the Superior Court of Justice (the higher court – also known as the “SCJ”).  This article provides an update as to how criminal cases are proceeding in both levels of court, as well as an important information on bail (pre-trial and pre-sentence release).

Ontario Court of Justice (OCJ)

In the OCJ, the initial response was to delay all scheduled appearances between March 16 and April 3, 2020.  The OCJ has extended this protocol until May 29, 2020.  If you have any appearance scheduled between March 16 and May 29, 2020, it will be rescheduled to a date exactly 10 weeks in the future (with some exceptions below).  On the rescheduled date, the Court will determine when your trial/plea/next appearance will take place.

This will be the case for all non-essential appearances (e.g., a remand, a guilty plea, a trial) unless your lawyer or the Court tells you otherwise OR if your appearance is at one of the courthouses below.  If your matter is in a courthouse at one of the following locations, consult the OCJ webpage at https://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/general-public/list-of-adjournment-dates-for-criminal-matters/ to see when your next court date will be:

Atikokan, Barrie, Bracebridge, Blind River, Bradford, Cochrane, Collingwood, Deer Lake, Elliot Lake, Exeter, Huntsville, Ignace, Kapuskasing, Kasabonika, Killaloe, Lac Seul, Leamington, Lindsay, Midland, Mishkeegogamang, Northumberland, Orillia, Parry Sound, Pikangikum, Poplar Hill, Red Lake, Renfrew, Sandy Lake, Walpole Island First Nation, Wapekeka, Weagamow

If your case is not proceeding in any of the above courthouses, it will be rescheduled as follows (unless your lawyer or the Court has told 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


Monday April 6

Tuesday April 7

Wednesday April 8

Thursday April 9

Friday April 10


Monday April 13

Tuesday April 14

Wednesday April 15

Thursday April 16

Friday April 17


Monday April 20

Tuesday April 21

Wednesday April 22

Thursday April 23

Friday April 24


Monday April 27

Tuesday April 28

Wednesday April 29

Thursday April 30

Friday May 1


Monday May 4

Tuesday May 5

Wednesday May 6

Thursday May 7

Friday May 8


Monday May 11

Tuesday May 12

Wednesday May 13

Thursday May 14

Friday May 15


Monday May 18

Tuesday May 19

Wednesday May 20

Thursday May 21

Friday May 22


Monday May 25

Tuesday May 26

Wednesday May 27

Thursday May 28

Friday May 29

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


Monday June 15

Tuesday June 16

Wednesday June 17

Thursday June 18

Friday June 19


Monday June 22

Tuesday June 23

Wednesday June 24

Thursday June 25

Friday June 26


Monday June 29

Tuesday June 30

Wednesday July 1

Thursday July 2

Friday July 3


Monday July 6

Tuesday July 7

Wednesday July 8

Thursday July 9

Friday July 10


Monday July 13

Tuesday July 14

Wednesday July 15

Thursday July 16

Friday July 17


Monday July 20

Tuesday July 21

Wednesday July 22

Thursday July 23

Friday July 24


Monday July 27

Tuesday July 28

Wednesday July 29

Thursday July 30

Friday July 31


Monday August 3

Tuesday August 4

Wednesday August 5

Thursday August 6

Friday August 7

The only criminal matters the Court will hear before these predetermined dates will be bail hearings, scheduling and guilty pleas for people in custody (jail/prison), and urgent guilty pleas for people out of custody. Many of these proceedings will be conducted over the phone or by video conference.

Ontario Superior Court of Justice (SCJ)

The protocol in the Superior Court remains unchanged. 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

Bail

A recent court decision instructs that the threat of the novel coronavirus – COVID-19 – is a factor a judge (or justice of the peace) must take into account in deciding whether to release an accused from custody. This consideration should make release from custody more likely for many accused persons. As such, people in custody should inquire with a lawyer if they have not yet had a bail hearing or if they wish to have their detention reviewed by the Court.

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