Navigating Ontario’s criminal justice system can be daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. Understanding the rules, regulations, and procedures is stressful and can feel overwhelming.
While no two cases are alike, understanding what to expect can go a long way in helping ease the worry. Here are a few key pieces of information about bail.
What Is Bail?
Bail is a court order that allows individuals who have been charged with a crime to reenter or remain in the community while they await trial.
If you are charged with a criminal offence, you may be released without conditions or be given a Promise to Appear or a Summons to appear in court. These documents will outline when and where you must be for your bail hearing.
If you are taken into police custody, you may receive a Promise to Appear or an Undertaking to a peace officer as part of your release. The conditions associated with the Undertaking are meant to help lessen the chance of another offence occurring while your case is waiting to be heard.
If you are taken into police custody and not released, you will be brought to court for show cause. At this point, the Crown will determine whether to release you and why. A show cause will usually take place within 24 hours of the arrest.
The Grounds Of Detention
When deciding whether to release you on bail, the Crown will consider 3 grounds of detention. These are reasons that the Crown may be concerned about the risk of allowing you to return to or remain in the community and include:
- Primary- There is concern that you may leave the community, city, or country and fail to appear in court as required.
- Secondary- There is concern that you may re-offend or that the general public’s safety may be at risk if you are released.
- Tertiary- There is concern that confidence in the justice system may be compromised as a result of the nature of your crime. This usually applies to very serious cases.
The Bail Plan And Surety
At your bail hearing, your lawyer will present a bail plan to the Crown which addresses issues that may come up. Some of the topics touched upon in the bail plan may include where you’ll live, how you’ll ensure that you keep your court dates, and what conditions should be associated with your release.
Part of the decision to release you on bail may hinge on having someone act as surety. A surety is a person who agrees to provide supervision and ensure that you adhere to the conditions of your bail. If you fail to follow your bail conditions, your surety is required to report you to the police.
Agreeing to be a surety means pledging money to the court. Typically, a surety only pays if the bail conditions have been breached. Acting as a surety must be voluntary. In other words, you cannot pay someone to be your surety.
A critical part of navigating the bail process is ensuring that you have the right help. Bail is an important part of the criminal justice system and can have a significant impact on the degree to which your life is impacted following a charge. If you are charged with a crime, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as you can so that you can move forward knowing that someone is advocating for your rights.