Each Step Of The Court Process Explained

An impending court process can seem intimidating and complex, so understanding every step can help. In this post, we’ll walk you through each step of the Ontario court process, beginning with Crown pre-trial and ending with a criminal trial. By the end of this blog, you will have the court process explained!

The Preliminary Stage: Crown Pre-Trial 

Every journey starts with a first step, and to have the Ontario court process explained, we’ll begin with the Crown pre-trial. This stage is a meeting between the Crown prosecutor (the state representative) and the defence lawyer. This meeting is mainly about discussing the case, clarifying issues, and, if possible, negotiating a resolution without a full trial.

The Crown pre-trial serves several important functions. Firstly, it allows for an initial exchange of information between the two parties, which can help each side to understand the other’s position. During this exchange, you’ll get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and identify any legal issues you need to resolve before a trial.

In Ontario, the Crown pre-trial forms a significant part of the court process. Understanding its purpose can provide a clearer idea of what to expect as you begin your legal journey.

The Court Process Explained: Bail Hearing/Show Cause 

Following the Crown pre-trial, the next major step is often the bail hearing, also known as the show cause hearing. This is a crucial moment in the process because it determines if you’re held until trial or released.

During the bail hearing, the presiding judge or justice of the peace considers various factors to decide. These can include the nature and seriousness of the charges against you, your previous criminal record, and your connections to the community. The Crown prosecutor typically argues for your detention, presenting reasons why they believe you should be held in custody. Meanwhile, your lawyer will argue for your release, explaining why you should be allowed to remain in the community.

Understanding the bail hearing or show cause process is key to navigating this step effectively. Armed with this knowledge and backed by an experienced defence lawyer, you can effectively argue for your release. 

Changing Your Surety: A Detailed Guide 

In many instances, if you are released on bail, the court will require you to have a surety. In bail, a surety supervises you and makes sure you follow the bail conditions while you’re out.

But what happens if circumstances change and your surety can no longer fulfill their obligations? In Ontario, there is a process to change your surety. This involves applying to the court and presenting a new individual who is willing and capable of serving as your surety. The court will then consider whether the proposed surety is suitable and capable of carrying out the duties. 

Understanding the role of a surety and the process for changing your surety is an integral part of navigating the court process. But remember, it’s a complex procedure. That’s why it’s advisable to consult with a lawyer to ensure you follow the correct procedures and increase the likelihood of a successful application. 

Navigating the Criminal Trial Process in Ontario 

If your case proceeds to trial, understanding the criminal trial process in Ontario is essential. The process begins with the arraignment, where you will be formally charged and asked to enter a plea. The Crown prosecutor then presents their case, offering evidence and calling witnesses to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Next, it’s your turn. Your defence lawyer will challenge the Crown’s evidence and may present evidence on your behalf. They may also call witnesses to support your case, and the Crown has the opportunity to cross-examine these witnesses. 

Once both sides have presented their cases, they will each deliver their closing arguments. The judge or jury then retires to deliberate and ultimately render a verdict. 

Understanding each step in Ontario’s criminal trial process can give you a sense of control over your case. Your lawyer can guide you through these stages, offering the expertise to navigate this complex system. 

Bayne Sellar Ertel Macrae: Your Partner in the Court Process

Dealing with the court process can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. Bayne Sellar Ertel Macrae is a leading law firm in Ontario that specializes in criminal defence. Their team of experienced lawyers has a deep understanding of the court process and can provide the legal support you need. 

Bayne Sellar Ertel Macrae can guide you through each step from the Crown pre-trial to the final verdict. They’re committed to defending your rights, advocating on your behalf, and providing you with the knowledgeable representation you deserve. 


Understanding the court process can empower you and give you a sense of control over your situation. You’ll find out about the Crown’s pre-trial and bail hearing, as well as the role of a surety and how a criminal trial works.

This blog post provides an overview of the process, but it can’t replace legal advice and representation. If you’re navigating the court process, consider reaching out to the legal professionals at Bayne Sellar Ertel Macrae. They’re ready to stand by your side and offer their expertise every step of the way.


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