Bail, also known as Judicial Interim Release, is when a person is released, typically with certain conditions, into the community prior to their trial date. If you have been arrested and charged with a less serious offence you may be released with a promise to appear on your court date and no bail hearing is necessary. However, you may be held in custody if it is a more serious offence or the police do not want to release you. If this is the case you are entitled to a bail hearing within 24 hours.
A bail hearing is heard either by a Justice of the Peace or in Provincial Court. A bail hearing in front of a Justice of the Peace may be done in person or over the phone. It is important to speak to a criminal lawyer before your hearing, as the specifics of your case may determine the best place for your hearing to occur. During the hearing, the Crown lays out the case against you, which may include a summary of the charges you are facing, past criminal record or testimony by any witnesses. It is the Crown’s job to argue the reasons why you should be held in custody until your trial date. It is then the defence attorney’s job to show the court any reasons why you should be released. Your defence attorney will want to know if you have ties to the community, such as a home, job, family and friends, that make it more likely that you will indeed show up to your court obligations if bail is granted. The court will grant bail if they believe that you will show up for your court appearances, do not pose any threat to the community while out on bail, and your release will not risk the public’s confidence in the justice system.
A bail hearing is not to determine innocence or guilt, it is only meant to determine whether you should be released prior to your trial date or stay in custody until that time. If you are released, you may have certain conditions placed upon you, such as staying away from specific people or places, or restrictions on using or owning cell phones, computer equipment, weapons etc. depending on the offence you are charged with. You may also be asked to attend counselling or treatment during this time or post bail money as a guarantee that you will abide by the terms of your bail. If you do not abide by these conditions or fail to show up for your court appearance your bail may be revoked, in which case you forfeit your bail money and will remain in custody for the remainder of the time until your case is resolved, as well as be facing additional charges for failing to abide by the conditions of your release.
If you have been arrested, are in custody, or have an upcoming bail hearing it is important to speak to a criminal lawyer ASAP as it is a time-sensitive matter.