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What is going to happen to my Provincial Court criminal matter during COVID-19?

13, 07-2021

What happens to your criminal case depends on what type of appearance you have and when it was scheduled. Review the Provincial Court’s Notice to the Profession and Public for more details. If you do not have a lawyer, you can still apply for legal aid. It is strongly advised that you get a lawyer if you can. Please call your local Legal Aid office or call 1-866-577-2525(BC wide) or 604-408-2172 (Greater Vancouver).  If you are in Northern BC, take note of the Northern Bail Pilot Project CRIM 14.

Initial Appearances: Depending on the matter, you may be required to appear in-person. However, the Court has suggested alternatives to in-person appearances. See HERE for more information on initial appearances.

Pre-trial Conferences: All files as set out in the “Application” section of the CRIM 12 Notice must have a pre-trial conference before being scheduled for a trial or preliminary inquiry. Where the accused has more than one criminal file with at least one file as described above, their other file(s) may be included in the pre-trial conference for resolution discussions. Counsel should provide these additional file numbers to the Judicial Case Manager when scheduling the pre-trial conference. See HERE for more information.

Trials: In-custody and out-of-custody trials and trial continuations will remain on the trial list on the date scheduled. Counsel and self-represented litigants are to attend Court in-person on the date scheduled at 9:00 AM to advise if they are ready to proceed that day. Witnesses and parties represented by counsel are to wait outside the courthouse (within a 30 minute distance) and be prepared to be called to attend court in-person. The Court will determine which trials will proceed. See the Notice to the Profession and Public for more information.

Sentencing and Bail: In-custody sentencings and bail hearings will continue to happen by telephone or video, unless a successful application is made by one of the parties.  

Out of custody appearances:

For out of custody matters where the accused (out of custody) and counsel agree to appear by audioconference or videoconference, and the prosecutor and defence counsel have agreed to seek a sentence that does not involve any incarceration but may factor in time already spent in custody and include a one day jail sentence where the accused is not taken into custody or a conditional sentence order, in order to schedule these dispositions, defence counsel must: 

  • Complete the “Request for Resolution of Matters” Form; 
  • File the completed Form to the applicable local court registry; and 
  • Provide a means by which the accused will receive a printed copy of any court order(s). For example, this could be an email, fax or mailing address for the accused or their counsel. 

A Judicial Case Manager will contact counsel to schedule the hearing by audioconference or videoconference before a judge. See the Notice to the Profession and Public for more information.

VERY IMPORTANT: For some courts, you need to contact the court on the day of your scheduled appearance. 

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