I have a criminal court date at the Ontario Court of Justice. Do I have to go to court in person?New

As of April 4, 2022, the (OCJ) will deal with criminal matters either:

  • in-person at court,
  • virtually, by video or telephone, or
  • a mix of in-person and virtual

For any , the court can decide to use a different method than what is listed below. For example, the court might choose to have the hearing in-person rather than virtually if:

  • you don't have a lawyer and need help from or the court,
  • you have trouble with technology, or
  • the hearing is very complicated.

Talk to your lawyer, duty counsel, or the Crown if you would like to change the method of your hearing. You can also contact your local court about your options.

Type of hearing Method of hearing
Bail hearings Virtual
Judicial pre- Virtual
Guilty plea In-person

In-: accused agrees to video

Out of custody: if the Crown and accused agree to video and the Crown isn't asking for a jail

Preliminary inquiries In person, unless the judge says something else or if both the Crown and accused agree to a virtual or hybrid hearing
Set-date Virtual

The OCJ has written a guide for how to use Zoom to attend virtual court.

Hearings scheduled before April 4 will use the method that was already decided. Contact your local court if you need more information.

Check your court date online

If your court date is today or tomorrow, you can check the court list online to see the time, method of hearing, location, and reason for your court appearance.

These lists are updated at least once daily at 8 a.m. This means you might not see your case on the list online if, for example, your case was added after 8 a.m.

Virtual Hearing

Most virtual appearances will be by video using Zoom.

The court will send you information about the date and time of your hearing and instructions on how to join the virtual courtroom. If you don't have this information, contact your local court before your court date.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you're appearing in court over Zoom:

  • Use a device that has a camera, such as computer or tablet.
  • Test your internet connection ahead of time.
  • Find a quiet space with good lighting and an appropriate background.
  • Log into your hearing 15 minutes early.
  • Your screen name should be your given name and last name.
  • Raise your hand when you want to speak.
  • Mute your microphone when you're not speaking.

Your lawyer should make sure you have the right technology. If you don't have a lawyer, you should talk to the Crown or the court about your options.

The OCJ has a guide about how to attend a virtual hearing, and some tips for how to behave at virtual hearings.

In-person hearing

If you have an in-person hearing, you should self-screen before you go to court. This means you check to see if you have any COVID-19 symptoms. You can use the government's screening tool but you don't have to show the results when you get to court. If you're sick or have any COVID-19 symptoms, don't go to court. If you can't come to court, read I can’t make it to my court date. What do I do? to learn about your options.

Here are some tips on going to court:

  • Plan to be at the courthouse at least 15 minutes before your hearing. This gives you enough time to go through security and find your courtroom.
  • Be prepared for a possible security search at the courthouse. Do not bring any weapons.

Hearings

Here are some tips on how what to do during your hearing:

  • Wear appropriate clothes. For example, don't wear clothes with inappropriate language or images.
  • Bring all the documents you need.
  • Don't chew gum or eat any food or drink.
  • Turn off cell phones or other electronic devices.

You must stand when the judge enters or leaves the courtroom. You should also stand when you are speaking to the judge, unless you are testifying. When you talk to the judge, say “your Honour” and don't interrupt when the judge is speaking. You should be respectful and polite to everyone and refer to other people in the courtroom by “Mr.”, “Ms.”, or “Doctor”. If you are having trouble hearing the judge or anyone else, you should tell the judge.

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