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

Updated
18, 09-2020

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). 

Initial Appearances: Initial Criminal Appearances in Provincial Court are starting again. People having a first appearance on a criminal charge in Provincial Court on Vancouver Island from June 15 to July 3, 2020 do not need to attend court. It will be put off to a date listed for their court location in the Notice to the Profession and Public. People who have a first appearance on a criminal charge in Provincial Court on Vancouver Island on or after July 6, 2020 must attend court. People who have a first appearance on a criminal charge in Provincial Court in the rest of British Columbia (the Fraser, Interior, Northern and Vancouver Regions) on or after June 15, 2020 must attend court.  See HERE for more information on initial appearances.

Trials: All in custody and out of custody trials and trial continuation scheduled between March 23 and May 16, 2020 will be adjourned unless the accused or the Crown applies to the Judicial Case Manager and arranges to have the trial heard by telephone. Trials scheduled between May 19 to July 3, 2020 will either proceed on their scheduled day or be rescheduled. Trials scheduled after July 3, 2020, will proceed on their scheduled date. Counsel and self-represented litigants should attend court on the date scheduled at 9:00 AM to advise if they are ready to proceed that day. 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: Other than issues determined by a judge to be urgent, all out of custody criminal matters (initial appearances, remands, applications, trials, and sentencings) scheduled between March 18 and May 16, 2020 have been adjourned (postponed). Pre-trial conferences will be scheduled by the Judicial Case Manager.To find out when you need to go to court next review Appendix A of the Provincial Court’s Notice to the Profession and Public.  See also the BC Provincial Court’s new COVID-19 FAQ page. 

VERY IMPORTANT: For some courts, you need to contact the court on the day of your scheduled appearance. For other courts, Appendix A  of the Notice to the Profession and Public will list when your next court date will be. 

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