COVID-19 FAQs: Criminal

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Legal aid services

I need legal advice about my criminal case. Can I go to the duty counsel office at the courthouse to speak to someone?
In-person criminal law services are available at Legal Aid Ontario’s (LAO) courthouse offices. Staff are on-site Monday to Friday to serve clients who must appear before the court for same-day matters, with priority given to in-custody clients.

Summary legal advice for matters taking place in the future will be provided over the phone by duty counsel working remotely.

Visitors must screen for COVID-19 symptoms before they can enter a legal aid office or receive help in person. Signs with instructions will be posted at every legal aid location.

Visitors to legal aid offices must wear a mask until further notice. If you have a medical condition or disability that prevents you from wearing a mask, staff may find an alternative method of safely providing service. If you do not have a mask to wear, our staff can provide you with one.


Court appearances

Do I still go to the courthouse if I have a scheduled appearance—either to get my disclosure, for a guilty plea or trial?
Each court location may adopt slightly different approaches to virtual and in-person proceedings. Please contact the court where your matter is being heard if you are unsure what is expected of you.

Visit the Ontario Court of Justice website for more information about criminal proceedings.


Jails

Are the jails still open so that I can visit my friend or family member who is in jail?
Visit the Ministry of Correctional Services website to find out whether the correctional facility you want to visit is open (visiting status) and how to prepare before your visit.
Before the COVID-19 crisis, I was sentenced to an intermittent sentence and I have been serving my sentence on the weekends. Do I still have to turn myself in at the jail?
If you are serving an intermittent sentence, you still have to go to jail, but you may be given a temporary absence pass to go home for longer periods. You can find more details about these changes at the Ministry of Correctional Services website.


More information