Access to criminal backgrounds in Ontario

Who has access to criminal background information in Ontario?
Here and in most places, criminal court proceedings are usually public and I or anyone can sit in. Why then is it difficult to obtain trial transcripts or at least charges and judgments related to individuals?
I suppose it is to protect the accused but I will often read newspaper reports where a reporter has accessed this information. So who can get this info and how?
Can I petition someone to get this access?

You can sometimes get that information for free from (they do the most important cases, but also lots of random cases).

I’ve heard you can go to the courthouse and ask for transcripts, but presumably that requires you to identify the case.

One other thing you need to know is that once the criminal-in-question has served their time and completed their parole, they may then be pardoned. It is a matter of some paperwork and about $500 in fees, from the last I recall.

A pardoned criminal’s court records are then sealed, unless they should happen to reoffend.

If enough time has passed, odds are you won’t find anything.

Court proceedings are recorded (by tape & by court reporter), but most are not typed out as a transcript. Only when someone pays for that does it happen. (That’s one of the costs involved in filing an appeal.) So it’s not very difficult to get a transcript – if you’re willing to pay for it.

Court decisions & Judgements are recorded for every case. But filed by case number, not the names of the people involved. If you know the case number, they are easy to find. But there isn’t a big court index that lists all the cases John Doe was involved in. That’s one of the things done by companies like WestLaw. They sell access to that, for fairly high prices.

Protecting the innocent has little to do with it. Court cases are public, whether the defendant is found guilty or not guilty.

It’s mostly a matter of lots of documents, grown in various storage systems, all developed on their own, for their own purposes, and really not coordinated all that well.

Thank you.
Is there a way I can find the case numbers that apply to a particular individual? Is there a central office for central Ontario that I can go to and do some legwork?
I’ve looked at It is for lawyers and law students.
How does a private company get to profit from this?

As it happens, I went through this process ten years ago. Here’s what I did: I called the Ontario Court of Justice on the phone, who instructed me to write to them (2201 Finch Avenue West, Toronto, ON M9M 2Y9) providing as many basic details as I could about the charge, the trial, and the individual, and enclosing a cheque for $4. They wrote back with a full list of court appearances and asked me which ones I wanted transcripts for. I replied and they wrote back again to let me know how much it would cost to transcribe the tapes. I replied a final time, enclosing a cheque for the quoted amount. Then after several months they eventually wrote back to me to indicate that they had lost the tapes and so I wouldn’t get my transcripts after all. I don’t think I ever got my money back. :frowning: Though they did at least send me whatever written records they did have, which included the original charge sheet written by the arresting officer and the judgment signed by the presiding judge.

Anyway, it’s possible the procedure for getting records has changed since then. I see that the Court’s web page indicates that access to court records is now handled by the Ministry of the Attorney General, and links to a document there entitled “Court Services Division Policies and Procedures on Public Access to Court Files, Documents and Exhibits”.

Capitalism at work!

That document is very useful. It tells me that I have access to court information but it does not tell me exactly how to access the information. No telephone numbers or email addresses.
I will visit my local courthouse when this lockdown is lifted.

Try this page for information about court transcripts:

I found that link from this page:

I’m not in Ontario, but I doubt it.

There’s no «Big Book o’Criminals» at the court houses. The file numbers are just to keep track of the charges against a particular individual. Once that set of charges is completed, the file goes off to long-term storage. There’s generally no consolidated record of all charges in a particular court point by name of accused person. There’s no need for that kind of registry. (Those convicted for have their names entered in a computer databank run by the Justice ministry and/or policing, but that’s not part of the court system so not public access.

As psychonaut explained, if you know the court point, the rough dates in issue and the name of the individual, you can go to the courthouse and see if you can track down the info.

[quite]I’ve looked at It is for lawyers and law students.
How does a private company get to profit from this?

They hire people to collect copies of all written decisions from the courts, which are a matter of public record. Then they enter those written decisions into their databased, with added information such as summaries of the case, links to subsequent treatment of the case, appeals, and links to the discussion of the case in case digests, then they make their database available for a fee it’s the funding system, links, note—ups and so on which make their service valuable to lawyers, who pay for it.

Not all decisions get entered in to this sort of system, only written ones that have some significance. Most décisions in the criminal courts are oral judgments. They’re generally only transcribed if there’s an appeal.