How Do Bails Work in Ontario: Everything You Need to Know

Explore the intricacies of bail with Sondhi Defence. Our guide covers everything from bail types to hearing processes, helping you navigate the legal system with ease

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Explanation of the Bail System in Ontario

Persons accused, charged, or arrested for a criminal offence in Ontario can be released from custody while awaiting trial through bail. Bail hearings are held within 24 hours of the arrest to determine whether the accused person can be released on bail pending trial or be held in jail. It also determines the conditions of bail if granted.

If you are wondering how the bail system works in Ontario, chances are you or a loved one may be facing criminal charges. If so, contact a skilled criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. Our lawyers at Sondhi Defence have represented many in bail hearings and secured favourable outcomes.

What Is a Bail Hearing?

A bail hearing is a legal process where a judge determines if an accused party will be detained or released while awaiting trial. Reasonable bail is a constitutional right under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Moreover, you are entitled to a bail hearing within 24 hours of arrest.

Provincial governments and the federal government share responsibility for the Canadian criminal justice system. Criminal law falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada, but provinces are responsible for the administration of justice. This means that the provinces have jurisdiction to prosecute criminal offences within their borders. The criminal process, including bail hearings, also falls within the jurisdiction of provinces and territories.

Bail hearings aren’t trials. So, the outcome doesn’t affect the decision as to whether the accused is guilty or not guilty. Instead, it determines if a person may return to society while awaiting trial.

Common Types of Bail

There are several bail types that range in severity and difficulty. Courts determine the right bail type to grant depending on the charges involved, criminal record, and other factors.

Here are the most common types of bail in a bail hearing:

  1. Own recognizance: Bail on your own recognizance involves promising the court to pay a particular amount of cash if you fail to appear for your court hearing.
  2. Surety bail: A surety is a family member or a friend who agrees to supervise the accused and ensure their compliance with bail conditions. The surety person provides a bail bond as security. The surety may be required to pay whenever the accused fails to comply with bail conditions. 
  3. Undertaking with conditions: One of the least serious types of bail, undertaking with conditions, is bail without a surety or bail money. You are released on your promise to comply with the conditions set by the court.
  4. Bail program recognizance: When released on bail program recognizance, a social program caseworker will assigned to supervise you and ensure your compliance. It is usually granted to people who lack the social or financial means to satisfy the requirements of other types of bail.

The Role of Bail Bondsmen

Bail bondsmen play a pivotal role in the bail system, offering a financial guarantee to the court that the defendant will appear for their court dates. Essentially, a bail bondsman, or bail agent, provides a bail bond, which is a type of surety bond. This bond acts as a security, ensuring the defendant’s return to court. If the defendant fails to appear, the bail bondsman is liable to pay the full bail amount.

The process begins when a defendant, unable to post the full bail amount, contacts a bail bondsman. The defendant typically pays a non-refundable fee to the bondsman, usually about 10% of the bail amount. In return, the bondsman pledges the full bail amount to the court, allowing the defendant’s release. This system hinges on trust and financial risk, making the selection of a reliable bail bondsman crucial.

Utilizing a bail bondsman has implications. While it enables defendants to gain freedom pending trial without paying the full bail amount upfront, it also introduces the risk of financial loss through the non-refundable fee. Moreover, defendants may need to provide collateral to the bondsman, which can be seized if they fail to meet court obligations. This arrangement underscores the importance of adhering to bail conditions and court dates, as failure to do so can result in significant financial and personal consequences.

The Bail Process

When arrested for a criminal offence, you may be:

  • Released on an appearance notice
  • Released on an undertaking to a police officer
  • Held in custody until your bail hearing

The Criminal Code provides the accused the right to a bail hearing within 24 hours of arrest. The accused is brought before a judge or justice of the peace in a courtroom. The parties that may be present include the Crown prosecutor, the accused, the defence lawyer, sureties, and witnesses.

The accused person is identified, and the charges against them are read out in the court. The judge or justice of peace determines whether the accused person remains in detention or is released on bail. If a release is determined, the judge decides under which conditions, if any.

Here is what to expect at bail hearings:

  • Crown position: During the bail hearing, the crown may consent to a release order or push for the accused to be held in custody. When the Crown prosecutor opposes release or certain release conditions during a bail hearing, they must present their arguments and evidence to support their position.

  • Defence position: The accused can provide a plan for their release to mitigate court concerns on public safety, repeat offences and flight. The defence lawyer presents evidence to the court, including a defendant’s testimony. In some cases, the defence must prove their position and provide evidence as to why the accused should be released.

  • Sureties and bail conditions: The court considers the proposed bail conditions. If a surety is involved, they can be called to testify and provide information such as:

    • Their relationship with the accused person

    • Their ability to supervise and ensure compliance

    • An outline of assets and financial guarantees they can offer

  • Decision: The court considers all the evidence and submissions to grant or deny bail. They also determine the type of bail, bail amount, and conditions to be met for release. The decision for denied bail is based on:

    • Flight concerns

    • Protecting the public

    • Maintaining the public’s confidence in the justice system

If you are refused bail, you can request a bail review from a higher court, usually the Superior Court of Justice.

Setting Bail Conditions

Canada’s bail system allows the accused to wait for their trial at home instead of jail. But, a granted bail may involve conditions that an individual needs to follow. The conditions vary depending on the:

  • Criminal record: repeat offenders are more likely to receive strict bail conditions

  • The nature and seriousness of the allegations: serious charges call for the most serious bail conditions

Conditions of bail are rules an accused person follows while out on bail until the trial starts. Examples of common conditions imposed by courts may include:

  • Appear in court on the provided court date

  • Report to a peace officer

  • No contact orders preventing the accused from communicating with the alleged victim

  • Location bans restricting the accused from certain locations

  • Requirements to live at a specific address

  • Deposit a passport to prevent travel

  • Curfews require the accused to stay home during specific hours, usually at night.

How Sondhi Defence Can Help

Criminal defence lawyers at Sondhi Defence have a deep understanding of the legal framework surrounding bail hearings. We can easily navigate the complex legal landscape and present strong arguments.

Our lawyers can negotiate with the Crown prosecutor to seek an agreeable resolution. At Sondhi Defence, our lawyers advocate for less restrictive released conditions.

Why Choose Sondhi Defence for Bail Matters

At Sondhi Defence, we’re experienced in safeguarding clients’ rights and interests. We ensure the accused person’s rights are upheld and violations addressed. We’re reputable in challenging evidence presented by the Crown prosecutor that may infringe on your rights. 

Contact Sondhi Defence Immediately

Solid legal representation is vital to ensure a favourable bail hearing outcome. Are you or your family member expecting a bail hearing? It is crucial to seek the help of a criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. At Sondhi Defence, we can help with your bail hearing and secure your release.

Our skilled defence lawyers craft persuasive arguments to support the client’s release. So, contact our law office today and schedule a free consultation for your case.

Get In Touch

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence, call us right away at 1 (855) 4-SONDHI and get our team on your side. 

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