COVID-19 FAQs: Criminal

On this page:

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?

During this time, duty counsel offices at the courthouses are closed to in-person visits. Clients can receive advice over the phone by calling 1‑800-668‑8258. During this time, LAO will waive financial eligibility requirements for summary legal advice but your legal issue has to be one that we cover.


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?

Please do not go to court, you will be turned away. During the COVID‑19 crisis, the courts will be closed to the public for all non‑urgent matters and your case will be automatically put forward to a new date 10 weeks in the future.

For example, if you were supposed to go to court on April 14, 2020, you do not go on that date. The Judge or Justice of the Peace will automatically adjourn your case for 10 weeks, with a bench warrant with discretion. You would then be expected to go to court 10 weeks from April 14, 2020, which is June 16, 2020.

This may change and you can keep up‑to‑date by visiting the website for the Ontario of Justice.


Bail

My friend or family member was arrested and I want to bail them out. I am willing to be their surety and I want to go to court to help. Is this an urgent matter for me to go to court?

If you want to be a surety, please do not go to the courthouse. Instead, call us at 1‑800-668‑8258 to find how to act as a surety remotely. We will be able to connect you with the duty counsel dealing with the case for bail. If the person has a lawyer, please contact that lawyer for help.


Jails

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

During this time, there will be no visits allowed until further notice. To keep up-to-date on when this might change, please visit the Ministry of Correctional Services website.

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 of time. You can find more details about these changes at the Ministry of Correctional Services website.