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?

Our offices in the courthouse are now open to help clients who must appear in person that day.

Legal Aid staff will be on-site in the courts to provide services in person, but priority for in- person services will be given to people with emergency family matters, and people in custody with criminal matters. If you have a criminal matter, you need legal advice but your matter is going to court on a different day, please call us. Our contact centre is open, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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.


Are the jails still open so that I can visit my friend or family member who is in jail?

If you would like to visit a correctional institution, contact the institution first to learn more about their health and safety guidelines.

You can also visit the Ministry of Correctional Services website for information about the visiting status of an institution and how to prepare to visit a Correctional Services of Canada facility.

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