The Ontario government, working in conjunction with the Ontario Court of Justice and the Ontario Associations of Chiefs of Police, has introduced a digital initiative for electronically filing criminal charges.
As of December 7, 2021, the government has implemented eIntake, a platform that allows police officers to electronically file criminal charges. After its successful introduction in other regions, the eIntake system is now available in Toronto courthouses. The system was piloted in Barrie and Orillia from November 2019 to September 2020. It was rolled out in the Northeast region in December 2020, the Northwest region in January 2021, and the Central East region between May and September 2021.
The eIntake system also allows Justices of the Peace to enter their decisions and sign documents digitally. They can also request additional information from police online.
Since the application’s launch in 2019, more than 34,000 charging documents have been received digitally. To put this into perspective, more than 225,000 charging documents are filed in person by police officers across the province each year.
The eIntake platform is part of a series of digital initiatives the government is taking to “build a more connected justice system that is seamless, simple and efficient.” Enabling digitized data makes the filing of charges in Toronto “easier, safer and faster.” The criminal justice system has traditionally relied on paper to move cases forward, resulting in significant delays. By digitally connecting police, Crown attorneys, courts and corrections partners, the government hopes to “enable the real-time flow of data, documents and media so that the right information is in the right hands faster.”
While introducing the platform’s release, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones stated:
“The expansion of this platform enables faster, digitized data sharing between the police and courts in Toronto. This application establishes an important step towards the modernization of the criminal justice system and enables police to spend more time investigating crime and ensuring communities are safe and protected across Ontario.”
Attorney General Doug Downey noted that these digital tools and systems for sharing information between police, prosecutors, and other justice partners, are “critical to bringing offenders to justice and keeping communities safe.”
In the course of Ontario’s COVID-19 emergency and recovery, the government has introduced Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government (the “Action Plan”). The Action Plan aims to make the government more responsive to the needs of its people. It also acts as a roadmap to guide the province and bring significant change to the government, both in terms of the services it delivers and how it delivers them.
The Action Plan includes more than thirty projects to improve government programs and enhance how people and businesses interact with government bodies. According to the government, the Action Plan was created to “improve the overall functioning of government at a rapid pace,” using the lessons learned during the pandemic.
The government’s efforts under the Action Plan are centred on four key outcomes:
- Making government services more digitally accessible
- Reducing red tape and simplifying policies while protecting public health and safety
- Improving government purchasing
- Creating more responsive and flexible public services
These projects were prioritized based on the need to bring government services where people already live and conduct their business.
In allowing criminal charges to be filed electronically, the government seeks to tackle the first category of projects under the Action Plan. By digitally connecting police, Crown attorneys, courts and corrections partners, the province hopes to enable the real-time flow of data, documents and media. These initiatives to speed up the modernization of the justice system and the criminal justice sector are meant to assist in the efforts of prosecutors, police officers and the courts.
The eIntake platform was created to make public sector services more convenient, reliable, and accessible to the public. The province aims to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and speed of government operations and decisions by digitizing the public sector. The goal is to make Ontario the most advanced digital jurisdiction in the world. As per Attorney General Doug Downey:
“We are committed to establishing new and innovative ways of delivering justice remotely and online, and we will continue to work with partners to build a more connected and resilient criminal justice system that responds to how the world has changed.”
The government is currently working to ensure the platform is available throughout the province by the summer of 2022. More projects related to government modernization and the criminal justice system will be announced over the coming weeks and months.
As the criminal justice system is continually modernized, it is essential to work with criminal lawyers who are highly adept and efficient at navigating the justice system. At Hicks Adams LLP, our experienced team of criminal lawyers fearlessly defends clients against all types of criminal charges. We preserve your rights and give you a voice.
Our firm is based in downtown Toronto and we travel throughout Ontario to represent clients in criminal law matters. To find out how we can help you, call us at 416-975-1700 or reach out online to schedule a confidential consultation.