Call 24/7 for a free consultation

403-474-8188
Close

Covid FAQs

What is happening with my court date, is it postponed?

For all criminal matters in the Provincial Courts: all matters that are out of custody and that have a court appearance between March 17, 2020 and May 22, 2020 are now automatically adjourned 10 weeks from the date of your next scheduled court appearance. For example, if your matter was scheduled to be in court on April 1, 2020 in Calgary Provincial Court, your matter will automatically be adjourned to June 10, 2020 in Calgary.

For all criminal matters in the Court of Queen’s Bench: all matters that are out of custody (i.e. you are not currently in jail) and that have a court appearance between March 16, 2020 and May 1, 2020 are now automatically adjourned. The return date will depend on where your matter is being heard (i.e. Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Lethbridge, etc.).

If you are currently in custody, your matter will be heard in Court as scheduled. If you are out of custody, but your matter is one of emergency, you should contact your lawyer immediately to see whether your matter can be addressed in court. Only matters that are emergency or in-custody will be heard in court.

I am sick and under quarantine, should I come to court?

No, you should not come to court if you are sick or under quarantine. You should not come to court unless you are feeling healthy and are required to be in court that day. Further, you should abide by any and all advice you receive from a medical professional to ensure the health of yourself and those around you.

If you are currently scheduled to be a witness in a trial, you should contact the Crown Prosecutor’s office immediately to advise that you are feeling sick or under quarantine so that the Crown Prosecutor can inform the Court house and defence counsel.

My boyfriend or husband or relative is currently in custody or jail. Will they be released from jail early because of COVID-19?

Due to the state of emergency declared in Alberta and impending difficulties in maintaining the necessary level of sanitation, close quarters, regular physical contact and deficient hygiene in remand centres and jails, Crown Prosecutors have been encouraged to review their in-custody matters in light of the COVID-19 emergency. Crown Prosecutors are now to include in their process the impending situation of COVID-19 spreading in the remand system and protecting alleged offenders from the medical issue, while still protecting the public from any substantial likelihood of that accused reoffending.

If your boyfriend/husband or relative is currently in custody in a Remand Centre and awaiting a bail hearing, and they are not charged with violent or very serious crimes, it is possible that they will be released at an earlier opportunity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether your relative will be released will depend largely on the proposed bail plan going forward, any previous forms of release they were release on, and the type of charges they are facing. Typically, the more serious or violent the crime, the less likely it will be that the Crown and the Court will agree to an accused person’s release.

Now that my matter is being adjourned, what will happen on my next court date?

Provided you are represented by Legal counsel, you will not need to appear on your next court date. Your lawyer will appear on your behalf to set a new date for your cases to proceed.

For example: if your matter was scheduled on April 1, 2020, for one day of trial in Calgary Provincial Court, your matter will next be heard on June 10, 2020. On June 10, 2020, your lawyer will appear in Calgary Provincial Court to set a new date for trial at the earliest availability.

Another example: if your matter was scheduled on March 23, 2020 for five days of trial in Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench, your matter will next be heard on June 12, 2020 in Calgary Queen’s Bench Criminal Appearance Court. On June 12, 2020, your lawyer will appear to set new dates for trial at the earliest convenience.

Another example: if your matter was scheduled for disposition on April 20, 2020 in Didsbury Provincial Court, your matter will next be heard on Monday June 29, 2020. On June 29, 2020, your lawyer will appear in Didsbury Provincial Court to schedule a new date for disposition.

Is the Provincial Court in Calgary, Airdrie, Canmore, Cochrane, Didsbury, Okotoks, Siksika, Strathmore, Tsuut’ina Nation or Turner Valley closed?

No, the Court house is not presently closed, but entrance has been restricted by the Courts to Legal counsel who are speaking to urgent or in-custody matters, as well as security staff, media personnel, and civilians required as witnesses in a trial.

If you are currently scheduled to be a witness in a trial, you should contact the Crown Prosecutor’s office immediately to confirm that the trial is going ahead as scheduled before coming down to the Court house on the day of trial.

I have a Court appearance out of town in Airdrie, Canmore, Cochrane, Didsbury, Okotoks, Siksika, Strathmore, Tsuut’ina Nation or Turner Valley Provincial Court – Adult and Youth Criminal Matters.

As of March 17, 2020, the Provincial Court of Alberta has limited court appearances to matters that are “in-custody or urgent matters.” This policy is currently in effect from March 17, 2020 to May 22, 2020.

No members of the public are permitted in the Court house unless you are required for a court matter (such as a witness in a trial or media personnel). Your lawyer will continue to have access to the Court house for in-custody and urgent matters.

What this means is, if you are not in-custody (you are out of jail) and you have a criminal court appearance in Provincial Court between March 17, 2020 and May 22, 2020, you do not need to attend court. If you are out of custody, your matter will be automatically adjourned 10 weeks from the date of your scheduled court appearance. For example, if your next court date was on April 1, 2020 in Calgary Provincial Court, your matter will automatically be adjourned by the Court to June 10, 2020 in Calgary.

If your matter is a regional matter (Airdrie, Canmore, Cochrane, Didsbury, Okotoks, Siksika, Strathmore, Tsuut’ina Nation or Turner Valley) and was set for trial, your matter will be adjourned approximately 10 weeks to the next docket date in that jurisdiction. For example, if your matter was scheduled for trial on Friday March 20, 2020 in Airdrie Provincial Court, your matter will be adjourned approximately 10 weeks to the next docket date in Airdrie, which is Thursday May 28, 2020.

What happens if I am arrested during the COVID-19 pandemic?

If you are arrested, you should contact your lawyer by phone immediately. At Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence, our office will remain open regular business hours and after hours service to assist you and represent you with your criminal case. Contact us now.

If you are under arrest and not released at the roadside after you are arrested, and are brought back to the police detachment, you should contact your lawyer by phone upon arrival at the detachment. At Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence, our lawyers will work to negotiate with the Crown Prosecutor immediately in order to release you at the earliest opportunity.

If, given the nature of the charges you are facing, or other criminal circumstances, you are detained and must appear in Court in order to be released, you should contact our lawyers to advise them of your court date. When retained, our lawyers at Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence will appear in person in Court on your next court date to negotiate your release with the Crown Prosecutor.

I want to change one or more of my conditions of my bail or judicial interim release. What happens next?

If you are out of custody and one or more conditions of your release must be changed due to an emergency, you should contact your lawyer immediately. If we are retained, the lawyers at Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence will send a request to the respective Court to ask permission for your criminal matter to be brought into Court. With a Judge’s permission and the Crown Prosecutor’s consent to change your conditions, your matter can then be brought back into Court in order to change your conditions.

If your request to change conditions of your release is not a matter of urgency or emergency, and a Judge will not grant permission to bring your matter back into Court, your matter will remain adjourned to your next scheduled court date (see above to determine your next court date in Provincial Court or Queen’s Bench). On your next court date, your lawyer will then be able to negotiate a change of your conditions.

If my case is delayed will I get off? How will this delay affect the prosecution of my case and any Jordan considerations?

In the case of R v Jordan, 2016 SCC 27, the Supreme Court found there are presumptive ceilings on the time it should take to bring an accused person to trial. This means that your case must be heard within a certain period of time. In cases going to trial in the Provincial Court, the presumptive ceiling is 18 months for a matter to be concluded. In cases going to trial in the Court of Queen’s Bench, the presumptive ceiling is 30 months. In cases where the matter exceeds 18 months of delay in Provincial Court, or 30 months in Queen’s Bench, the presumption is that the delay is unreasonable. As such, the charges against the accused will be stayed. This is the case unless the Crown establishes the presence of exceptional circumstances.

The impact of COVID-19 and the respective delay on criminal proceedings in both Provincial Court and Queen’s Bench have yet to be solidified. Since the COVID-19 outbreak and its effect on court proceedings are a unique and fluid situation, arguments on the effect of delay will be addressed by your lawyer once the international pandemic has subsidized and at the earliest opportunity. At Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence we will review every option with you to defend your case to the fullest.

I recently lost my job and do not have the funds to pay for a lawyer privately. Can I do a payment plan or will I qualify for Legal Aid?

With the drastically changing economy during COVID-19, we understand that retaining a lawyer privately may not always be an option. At Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence we offer a payment plan and will work with you to accommodate your financial situation.

If you are eligible to receive financial assistance for your criminal matters from Legal Aid Alberta, our lawyers at Roulston Urquhart Criminal Defence are available to represent you for any of your criminal charges through Legal Aid. You can contact us at 403.474.8188.

Whether you are eligible for assistance from Legal Aid Alberta is determined through a two-step process: Service Eligibility and Financial Eligibility:

Service Eligibility:
Whether the services you are seeking a lawyer for are eligible for Legal Aid coverage will depend on the type of criminal charges you are facing and the likely sentence you will receive if you were convicted. If you are facing serious criminal charges and/or there is a significant likelihood of you receiving a jail sentence after trial, you will likely meet the requirement for Service Eligibility.

Financial Eligibility:
Whether you are financially eligible for Legal Aid coverage will depend on your net family income, family size, and assets. Your income will be assessed for the last 30 days and last 12 months to determine whether you are financially eligible for assistance from Legal Aid Alberta.

More information on Legal Aid Alberta and the eligibility process can be obtained by calling the Legal Services Centre (1.866.845.3425) or by visiting their website: https://legalaid.ab.ca