Ontario's court system promotes openness and accessibility. As such, members of the public can access most court records, except when restricted by a statutory provision, common law rule or court order. Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General categorizes court records as criminal, civil, family, enforcement and exhibits. Different access rules apply to different categories and each court has its own policies. However, you can easily access many classes of documents in most cases. In certain circumstances, however, for example if the court seals the document or the case involves a youth criminal, you may not be able to get access.
Contact the Court Services Division of the Ministry of the Attorney General to ask whether the record you want is publicly accessible. You can do this by calling 416-326-2220 or 1-800-518-7901, filling the online form on the Ministry of the Attorney General website or accessing the deaf communication service at 416-326-4012.
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Pay any applicable access fees if the record is publicly accessible. As of August 2010, there is no charge to access criminal court records and documents from the Ontario Court of Justice, the Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice and non-appeal family cases heard by the Superior Court of Justice.
Ask for the information you need over the telephone or visit the court to view and get a copy of the court record.
Some records are not immediately publicly accessible, but you still might be able to access them. For example, you could apply for a judicial official's permission to view court exhibits such as physical evidence and forensic documents.
Edriaan Koening began writing professionally in 2005, while studying toward her Bachelor of Arts in media and communications at the University of Melbourne. She has since written for several magazines and websites. Koening also holds a Master of Commerce in funds management and accounting from the University of New South Wales.