A Comprehensive Guide to Criminal Court Proceedings in Toronto

Facing criminal charges in Toronto or the surrounding areas can be a daunting experience. The complexities of the legal system and the potential life-altering consequences make it essential to understand the criminal court proceedings in the Greater Toronto Area. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through each stage of the process, shedding light on the various steps involved and providing valuable insights to help you navigate the system with confidence.

Whether you’re facing charges for the first time or simply seeking to educate yourself on the legal process, this guide offers the essential information required to better comprehend the intricacies of criminal court proceedings in Toronto.

Armed with a deeper understanding of the steps and players involved, you’ll be better prepared to make informed decisions and work closely with your legal team for the best possible outcome in your case.

A Comprehensive Guide to Criminal Court Proceedings in Toronto
1. Laying of Charges and Initial Arrest

The criminal court process begins when the police arrest a suspect and lay formal charges based on the Criminal Code of Canada. After the arrest, the accused is taken into custody and may be held for a bail hearing or released on bail with certain conditions. In some cases, the police may release the accused on a Promise to Appear or Undertaking before they even get to the bail hearing stage.

2. Bail Hearing

A bail hearing, also known as a judicial interim release hearing, is held within 24 hours of an arrest or as soon as possible following that timeframe. This hearing’s purpose is to determine whether the accused should remain in custody while awaiting their trial or be released on bail.

The Crown prosecutor may argue to keep the accused in custody based on flight risk, likelihood of reoffending, or the severity of the crime. If released, the accused will need to follow conditions laid out by the court and release documents. These conditions may include no-contact orders, curfews, or geographical restrictions.

3. Disclosure and Case Conferences

Following the bail hearing, the next step in the criminal court process is disclosure. The Crown prosecutor is required to provide the accused and their lawyer with a copy of all the evidence against them in their case. This disclosure may include witness statements, police reports, and expert opinions. Your defence lawyer will review this material to determine the most appropriate strategy for your case.

Case conferences, or pre-trial meetings, are held between the Crown and defence counsel to discuss and possibly resolve the case without going to trial. These informal meetings can result in an agreed resolution or identify outstanding issues to be decided at trial.

4. Preliminary Hearings

In cases involving an indictable offence, a preliminary hearing may take place to determine whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial. This hearing is held before a judge, with the Crown prosecutor presenting evidence and calling witnesses to testify. The accused’s defence lawyer can cross-examine these witnesses and challenge the evidence presented. If the judge determines that there is sufficient evidence, a trial date will be set.

5. Choosing Trial by Judge or Jury

For those facing more serious indictable offences, the accused will have the option to choose whether their case will be tried by a judge alone or judge and jury. This decision should be made in consultation with your defence lawyer, considering the factors surrounding your case and the type of trial that may provide the most favourable outcome.

6. Pre-Trial Motions

Installed directly into a vehicle’s ignition system, an IID requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece before starting the car. The device measures the individual’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and only allows the vehicle to start if their BAC meets the predetermined limit, usually well below the legal level of impairment. Some devices may also require random retests while the vehicle is in motion, ensuring continuous sober driving.

7. Trial Process

During the trial, the Crown prosecutor and defence lawyer present their cases before the judge or jury. The Crown has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is accomplished by presenting evidence and calling witnesses to testify. The defence, on the other hand, will challenge the evidence and witness testimony to create reasonable doubt.

The trial process typically follows a set order, beginning with opening statements from the Crown prosecutor, followed by presentation of the Crown’s case, including witness testimony and evidence. The defence may then present their case, which may or may not include calling witnesses or providing additional evidence. Both the Crown and defence have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.

After each side presents their case, closing statements are made, summarizing the principal arguments and addressing any issues raised during the trial. In a jury trial, the judge will then instruct the jury on the relevant legal principles to be applied before they begin their deliberations.

8. Verdict and Sentencing

At the end of the trial, the judge or jury will announce a verdict of guilty or not guilty. If the accused is found not guilty, they will be acquitted, and the criminal proceedings will end. If found guilty, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled.

During the sentencing hearing, both the Crown and the defence will present their positions on the appropriate sentence for the accused. The judge will consider various factors, such as the nature and gravity of the offence, the offender’s criminal history, and personal circumstances before delivering the sentence. Sentences can range from fines and community service to probation, incarceration, or a combination of penalties.

Knowing each stage of the criminal court proceedings in Toronto can help you better understand and prepare for the legal challenges you may face. Ensure that you discuss every aspect of your case with an experienced criminal defence lawyer to make informed decisions throughout the process.

Empower Yourself with Knowledge and Legal Expertise

Understanding the criminal court proceedings in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area is essential for navigating the legal system effectively and making informed decisions at every step of the process. It’s vital to have a skilled and experienced criminal defence lawyer by your side to guide you, protect your rights, and present your case in the best possible light.

If you’re facing criminal charges in Toronto, don’t leave your future to chance. The legal professionals at Calvin Barry Professional Corporation are experienced in handling all aspects of criminal court proceedings and are dedicated to providing personalized, effective representation for your unique case. 

Schedule a consultation with our team today to discuss your case and begin planning your legal strategy for the best possible outcome.

Be open and honest with your lawyer to give them the best chance of successfully defending you. Contact Calvin Barry today if you need a DUI lawyer in Toronto or the surrounding area.

Get In Touch

Contact Calvin Barry Today.

Contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer in Toronto to fight for your case.

Be open and honest with your lawyer to give them the best chance of successfully defending you. Contact Calvin Barry today if you need a DUI lawyer in Toronto or the surrounding area.

The Intersection of Racism and Policing in Canada

Canada prides itself on being a multicultural mosaic, celebrating diversity, and promoting inclusivity and equal opportunities for all.

However, beneath the surface of this seemingly perfect image lies a deeply-rooted issue of systemic racism that permeates various aspects of society, most notably the policing system.

While it might be tempting to assume that racism in policing is a problem unique to our neighbours south of the border, the reality is that systemic racism in Canadian policing is a persistent and pervasive issue that warrants equal attention and a commitment to change.

Systemic Racism: A Definition

Before delving into the issue, let us first establish what we mean by systemic racism. Systemic racism, also known as institutional racism, refers to how racial discrimination is embedded within institutions’ policies, practices, and procedures. Ultimately resulting in unfair treatment and unequal outcomes for racialized individuals.

This type of discrimination is not necessarily intentional or overt. Still, it is often unconscious and can be perpetuated by well-intentioned individuals who may not even be aware of their own biases.

The Evidence

In recent years, numerous studies and reports have brought attention to the issue of systemic racism in Canadian policing. For example, black people in Toronto are “20 times more likely to be shot and killed by the police than White people.”

This report also highlighted that Black people were disproportionately represented in cases of police use of force, which resulted in serious injury or death. Similarly, a 2020 study by the CBC found that Indigenous people in Canada were disproportionately affected by police violence.

These statistics are just the tip of the iceberg when unveiling the extent of systemic racism in Canadian policing. However, they provide a stark reminder that racial disparities exist in our country and that urgent action is needed to address them.

The Impact

The consequences of systemic racism in policing are far-reaching, and impact racialized individuals and the broader Canadian society.

For racialized communities, the impact of systemic racism in policing can manifest in various ways, such as increased feelings of fear, mistrust, and alienation from law enforcement, which can lead to reluctance to report crimes or cooperate with police investigations.

Moreover, racial profiling and excessive use of force can criminalize and overrepresent racialized individuals in the criminal justice system. This perpetuates harmful stereotypes and exacerbates existing social inequalities.

This is particularly concerning given that the overrepresentation of racialized individuals in the Canadian prison system has been well-documented, with Indigenous and Black individuals being significantly overrepresented in federal and provincial correctional institutions.

Addressing the Issue

Given the deeply-rooted nature of systemic racism in policing, addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach that involves various stakeholders, including governments, police services, communities, and individuals.

At the government level, this could involve the implementation of policy reforms, such as increased oversight and accountability measures for police services, the reallocation of resources from policing to social services, and the development of legislation that explicitly addresses racial profiling and discrimination.

For police services, this could involve the adoption of community-based policing models that prioritize building relationships and trust with racialized communities, as well as the implementation of comprehensive training programs that address issues of implicit bias, cultural sensitivity, and the historical context of racialized communities in Canada.

Moreover, the involvement of communities and individuals in the process of change is crucial. This could involve the creation of community-led initiatives aimed at addressing the root causes of crime, such as poverty, mental health, and addiction, as well as the amplification of voices of racialized individuals in discussions about policing and public safety.


It is essential to recognize that systemic racism in policing is not an isolated issue but is intricately connected to broader issues of systemic racism in Canadian society.

As such, addressing this issue requires a collective commitment to dismantling the structures that perpetuate racial inequality and injustice in all aspects of our lives.

By working together, we can move towards a more just, equitable, and inclusive Canada that truly reflects the values of diversity and inclusivity that we hold dear.

If you are looking for criminal lawyers in Toronto, we can help you. At Calvin Barry, we are a team of criminal defence lawyers serving the entire Greater Toronto Area. You can be assured that your case will be handled by lawyers with a vast background and expertise in criminal law and more. Get started today and request a free consultation online.

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Contact Calvin Barry Today.

Contact an experienced criminal defence lawyer in Toronto to fight for your case.

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