Questions related to COVID 19
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. We can be reached at 403.474.8188 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Next steps: FAQ
You should write an account of the events leading to your arrest. Include a general dated chronology and a description of your interaction with the police but save your version of what happened for an in-person consultation. This is so your lawyer can have a comprehensive and accurate picture of the circumstances.
Whether you can travel with a conviction is at the discretion of the country to which you are travelling but to be safe, you can apply for an entry waiver if you intend on planning internationally.
Generally, an impaired driving or administrative charge alone does not prevent you from travelling to the United States.
A conviction on a sexual offence, homicide, drug offence, or internet crime will likely affect your ability to travel internationally. It is expected that you will need an entry waiver if you intend on traveling to the United States.
Roulston Criminal Defence Firm can make most of your upcoming appearances for you. You may need to attend court with your lawyer if you are being sentenced, and during most hearing dates (such as trials or preliminary inquiries).
You will have to attend your fingerprinting appearance as specified on your Recognizance but if you are acquitted or your charges are withdrawn, Roulston Criminal Defence Firm will send a letter to the Government of Canada requesting that those records be destroyed.
Depending on the nature of your circumstances, Roulston Criminal Defence Firm can help you get your life back on track by recommending a counseling plan, or arranging drug and alcohol treatment programs.
Certain offences (such as high-level drug prosecutions or homicides) attract media-attention. Roulston Criminal Defence Firm can make an application for a Publication Ban to exclude the media, or other members of the general public from your proceedings. In certain situations, a publication ban is an effective way to maintain your privacy but it can also work to draw unwanted attention to your case. It is important to discuss the benefits and drawbacks of requesting a publication ban with experienced counsel.
The police can search your property (e.g. your home, car, computer or cell phone) but they have to follow certain protocols so that your Charter rights aren’t violated. For instances, the police may have a search warrant but the basis for the warrant might be inadequate. A successful Court application can undermine the basis for a search and invalidate evidence obtained in its course.
So if your property was improperly searched any evidence found as a result of those searches may not be admissible at your trial.
The police have the ability to ask you incriminating questions about your charges but you have no obligation to answer those questions. With the exception of identifying yourself, you have the right to remain silent during police questioning and in fact you should.
If you have already given an incriminating statement to the police, the statement may be excluded from your trial if it was improperly obtained.
The police can confiscated property such as your cell phone or cash.
If the police have seized your property in a search, you may be able to have those items returned although drugs will not be returned unless they were medically prescribed. Asset Recovery is a complicated legal matter best tackled by a qualified lawyer.
If you are charged with a serious offence, or sentenced to a period of imprisonment that is shorter than two years, you will be incarcerated at a provincially operated correctional or remand center.
If you are sentenced to a period of imprisonment that is two years or greater, you will be incarcerated at a federal penitentiary that has maximum, medium or low security measures.
The Sexual Offender’s Information Registry is a database created by the Canadian Government that requires those convicted with certain sexual offences to register and disclose personal information to police. Registry occurs every year for a period ranging from 10 years to life, depending on the nature and number of offences.
The public does not have access to SOIRA.