How Long Will It Take To Finish My Criminal Court Case?

There are new rules and laws in place that govern the speed of a criminal matter in Ontario and the rest of Canada.  Inevitably, a criminal case will take some time.  For example, thorough preparation is not done overnight.  It also takes some time for the Crown prosecutor to produce the disclosure in the case.  The defence always has the right to know the case it has to meet.  The burden of proof in a criminal matter always rests with the Crown Attorney (Prosecutor).   Even taking the preparation times for both the Crown Attorney and defence counsel into consideration, the Courthouse itself likely will create delay due to backlogs.  There are only so many courts and judges available to hear trials.  Pleading guilty is always much faster than going to trial.  A trial usually takes at least one day of court time at a special court date that needs to be scheduled called a “trial”.  A guilty plea on the other hand can always be done and usually can be done on any day of the week.  The average guilty plea will take less than an hour whereas the average trial will take approximately 1-3 days.  So trials need to be scheduled well in advance given lack of availability.    So if your matter is simple and will be a plea or resolution, it will likely resolve in 3-6 months (sometimes as early as a day or two if you are pleading guilty very early on).  If your matter is more complicated it can take anywhere from 12 to 30 months.  There is now a ceiling/cap more or less on how long the process can take of 30 months because the Supreme court of Canada came out with a landmark ruling R. v. Jordan  which provided a presumptive ceiling of 18 months between the charges and the trial in a provincial court without preliminary inquiry, or 30 months in other cases.  Of course there could be other delays that make the matter drag longer.  If the timelines of your matter breach these timelines, your Charter rights under s. 11 (b) to a trial within a reasonable time, could be deemed to have been violated and your charges thrown out.  Of course the delay could have been caused by the defence in which case, a Charter infringement would be less likely if the timelines extended beyond the 30 months..  The lesson from all this however, is that it is unlikely your criminal case will go away quickly.  At a minimum if you are challenging the case, expect to be involved in the system for at least a year. 

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