Clients often inquire whether they can receive a copy of their disclosure from their defence lawyer to take home. The straightforward answer is no, and there are specific rules governing access to disclosure within the Ontario criminal justice system. 

  • No Copy for Clients:

    • Defence lawyers are not permitted to provide clients with a copy of their disclosure to take out of the office.
  • Disclosure Contents:

    • Disclosure includes police reports, witness statements, and any evidence against the accused, ranging from 80 pages to several thousand pages of documents and other evidence, such as videotape surveillance, or witness statements.  .
  • Reviewing in the Office:

    • Clients have full access to their disclosure within the lawyer’s office.
    • This province-wide policy prohibits defence lawyers from making copies of disclosure for clients,  unless they have permission  from the Crown.  The Crown rarely consents to this.. 
  • Strict Policies:

    • Signing an undertaking may be required, explicitly stating that the lawyer cannot provide anyone, including the client, with a copy of the disclosure.  Even if an undertaking is not signed,  the strict policy of defence counsel not being able to provide a copy of the disclosure to their client, applies in every Crown’s office in Ontario. 
  • Exceptions:

    • Some exceptions exist for providing disclosure to defence expert witnesses or private investigators.
  • Client Access:

    • Clients can spend as much time as needed in the lawyer’s office, thoroughly reviewing and reading their disclosure.
    • Detailed notes are encouraged during the review process.
  • Policy Reasons:

    • Specific and valid policy reasons exist for this rule. 
  • Universal Application:

    • The rule applies universally, from minor criminal charges like shoplifting to first-degree murder trials.


While the inability to take a copy home may be frustrating, the rules are in place for specific and appropriate policy reasons. Clients are encouraged to make the most of the opportunity to review their disclosure thoroughly within their  lawyer’s office.

Video Transcription:

Many of our clients ask us after they have retained our law firm, “Mr. Kruse can you provide me with a copy of my disclosure?” For example, it might be a banker’s box of disclosure, 2,000-3,000 pages of documents in a big case such as a murder case or 80 pages in a DUI case. “Can you copy my disclosure and provide it to me?”The short answer to their question is we are not allowed to provide a copy of the disclosure to our clients to take out of our office or provide the original disclosure to take out of our office.   The rules of the Crown Attorney’s offices across the province and our criminal court system do not allow this.  We have a court system where defence counsel requests and obtains disclosure in a criminal case (i.e.  all of the police reports, witness statements and any evidence against the accused which again can range from a very small file of 80 pages up to thousands of documents and video statements, you name it).  Criminal defence counsel in Ontario are not allowed to provide any part of the disclosure directly to the accused to take out of their law office. We simply are not allowed to make a copy of our clients’ disclosure and provide it to them.  However, we allow our clients to fully review their disclosure in   our office. That is a very firm province wide policy and rule with each Crown Attorney’s office across the province.  In many cases, we actually have to sign an undertaking with each Crown’s office which specifically states we are not allowed to provide anyone, including our clients, with a copy of the disclosure (some exceptions would be providing the disclosure to a defence expert witness or a private investigator).  Some Crown’s offices do not require an undertaking to be signed, but they still have the same strict policy and if it is breached, a defence lawyer can get in serious trouble with the crown and court.  This is a serious ethical issue and a very strict rule and defence counsel are simply not allowed to provide a copy of the disclosure to the client.

However, our client’s can have full access to their disclosure in our office. They can meet with their lawyer and we can set them up in one of our offices to fully review and read their disclosure for as long as they want and we ask them to take detailed notes.  We also review and analyze the disclosure with them, but we are unfortunately restricted from allowing them to take the disclosure out of our office.  This is a frustrating policy at times because it would be much easier if we could give the client a copy of the disclosure to read and review in the comfort of their home.  Unfortunately, we are not allowed to provide it to them to take home and there are specific policy reasons for this which you might imagine are valid. I will not get into the exact reasons for this universal and strict rule in Ontario, but there are very specific and appropriate policy reasons for this and it applies to every case from the most minor criminal charge, such as shoplifting up to a first-degree murder trial in Ontario. So that is the short answer whether a criminal defence lawyer is allowed to provide you with a copy of your disclosure to take home.

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