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.

Uncovering New DUI Laws in Toronto: Exploring the 2018 Amendments and Their Implications

Toronto, like other cities in Canada, is committed to maintaining road safety and reducing the prevalence of impaired driving. This commitment was further cemented in 2018 when the province of Ontario introduced a significant overhaul to its existing DUI laws, aimed at amending the criminal code and tightening penalties for impaired driving offenders. Understanding the nuances of these amendments and their potential implications is essential for drivers, ensuring compliance with these updated regulations and minimizing the risk of negative consequences. In this article, we aim to provide a comprehensive overview of the changes brought about by the 2018 amendments and examine the importance of an experienced criminal defence lawyer in navigating the intricacies of the altered legal landscape surrounding DUI offences in Toronto.

The 2018 amendments aimed to strengthen the impaired driving legislation in Ontario, placing greater emphasis on combating alcohol and drug-impaired driving. With marijuana legalization coinciding with these updates, both drivers and legal practitioners must be familiar with the implications of these revised laws to ensure that the rights and interests of those facing impaired driving charges are protected.

In the subsequent sections, we will delve deeper into the elements of the 2018 amendments, including changes to blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits, drug-impaired driving regulations, and the penalties associated with various impaired driving offences. Additionally, we will explore the crucial role of a knowledgeable DUI defence lawyer in helping clients navigate the ramifications of these amendments, providing informed guidance, effective legal representation, and robust defence strategies in the face of the updated impaired driving regulations. Stay tuned to learn more about the key changes in Toronto’s DUI laws and how these amendments may affect you.

A Closer Look at the 2018 Amendments

The 2018 amendments to Ontario’s impaired driving laws have introduced several significant changes, which can be broadly categorized into three areas:

  1. Alcohol-Impaired Driving: The amendments have brought about stricter penalties and adjustments to the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for various driving categories, including the introduction of the “warn range” for drivers with a BAC between 0.05 and 0.08.
  2. Drug-Impaired Driving: With the legalization of marijuana in Canada, the 2018 amendments have also introduced specific provisions for drug-impaired driving, including penalties for drivers impaired by drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol.
  3. Enhanced Penalties: The updated laws have increased the consequences and penalties for repeat impaired driving offenders and first-time offenders with high BAC levels, sending a clear message that impaired driving will not be tolerated in Toronto.

Changes to Alcohol-Impaired Driving Regulations

The 2018 amendments have revised the BAC limits and corresponding penalties for drivers in Toronto:

  1. Zero BAC for Novice and Young Drivers: Drivers under the age of 21 or those holding learner’s permits (G1 or G2 licenses) are now required to maintain a zero BAC at all times while operating a motor vehicle.
  2. Updated Warn Range Penalties: The legislative changes have introduced the “warn range” concept for drivers who have a BAC of 0.05 to 0.08. Penalties within this range include immediate roadside license suspensions ranging from 3 to 30 days, depending on the frequency of the offence.
  3. Increased Penalties for High BAC Offenders: The amendments have established increased penalties for drivers found to have a BAC above 0.08 or who refuse to provide a breath sample. Consequences include the potential for vehicle impoundment, a license suspension of up to 90 days, and participation in the Ignition Interlock Program.

Drug-Impaired Driving Regulations

The 2018 amendments also outline specific provisions for drug-impaired driving offences, primarily focusing on THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana:

  1. Zero Tolerance for Novice and Young Drivers: Similar to the alcohol-impaired driving rules, novice drivers and those under the age of 21 are required to maintain a zero THC level while driving.
  2. THC Limits and Penalties: The legislative changes have established two categories for THC levels in drivers – between 2 nanograms (ng) and less than 5 ng per millilitre of blood, and 5 ng or more per millilitre of blood. Penalties vary based on the level of THC detected and can result in fines, loss of driver’s license, or even imprisonment for more severe cases.
  3. Combined Alcohol and Drug Impairment: For drivers found to have both alcohol and THC in their system, the penalties are more severe. A BAC over 0.05 combined with a THC level of 2.5 ng or more per millilitre of blood can result in a fine of up to $1,000, a one-year license suspension, and participation in the Ignition Interlock Program for first-time offenders.

The Importance of a Skilled DUI Defence Lawyer

Given the complexities introduced by the 2018 amendments, enlisting the expertise of an experienced criminal defence lawyer specializing in DUI cases is essential in appropriately addressing impaired driving charges:

  1. Thorough Case Evaluation: A trusted DUI lawyer will meticulously assess your case, identifying any shortcomings in the evidence or investigative procedures that could strengthen your defence efforts.
  2. Professional Representation: An adept attorney can guide you through the legal process, ensuring your rights and interests are protected, and developing a sound defence strategy tailored to the unique circumstances of your case.
  3. Negotiation and Advocacy: A capable DUI defence lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution for reduced charges or penalties and vigorously advocate for your rights in court, whether during a trial or at sentencing hearings.


The 2018 amendments to Toronto’s DUI laws have introduced considerable changes, affecting both alcohol and drug-impaired driving offences. Staying informed about these updates is crucial for all drivers to ensure compliance and minimize the risk of facing severe penalties. Additionally, securing the support of an experienced criminal defence lawyer is vital in navigating the complexities of the updated regulations and effectively addressing any DUI charges arising from these legislative changes. The dedicated team at Calvin Barry Professional Corporation is well-versed in the nuances of Toronto’s impaired driving laws and stands ready to provide expert legal representation to clients facing DUI-related charges. Contact us today to discuss your case and secure the guidance and advocacy necessary to protect your rights and future.

Book a Free Consultation