What Is a Bail Hearing?
Most people are unaware of what happens after they get arrested for committing an offence. The common expectation is that they will be taken to the police station and can secure bail after their fingerprints and photographs are taken. However, this is not always the case.
The officer will most likely release or charge you after twenty-four hours. But, for more severe crimes, they may decide to keep you in custody until your trial date. If you are held in custody, you have the right to a bail hearing with an available judge.
Bail hearings are court processes where a judge or a justice of the peace decides whether to release you on bail or detain you pending trial. Police officers may place you in a detention facility before your bail hearing. You may have to wait a day or more before appearing in court.
If you have a criminal defence lawyer, they can represent you at the hearing and present arguments on your behalf. If you do not have one, the judge or justice of the peace will inform you of your rights and ask if you would like to hire counsel.
Keep reading to learn more about what happens at a bail hearing and what to expect. Sondhi Defence has the experience and expertise to help you navigate this process.
What Happens at a Bail Hearing?
The bail hearing consists of the justice of the peace, a prosecutor, and the defendant’s attorney. The court will consider all evidence presented by the prosecution and defence. Some examples of factors they may consider include:
The defendant’s character and history
The seriousness of the charge
Whether the defendant has a record of violence
The defendant’s financial resources and employment
Whether the defendant can post bail
The nature of the alleged crime
The defendant’s prior criminal history and court appearances
Family connections and length of residence within the community
Whether they will obey the conditions of their release
The Crown is responsible for showing why the accused should not be granted bail. But, in the case of serious violent crimes, the burden of proof is on you to show why the court should grant you bail.
You will need a surety who promises to supervise you and ensure you behave appropriately. Surety releases are common in Ontario. They involve another individual promising the court that they will supervise the accused. They also have to make sure the accused follows the bail conditions. Moreover, a surety may have to pledge money to the court (the surety bond).
A family member or relative may act as your surety in court. But, if the accused fails to follow bail conditions or appear on future court dates, these individuals will lose their money. If an accused individual in Canada has a missed court date during the bail process, it can have other serious implications, potentially leading to the revocation of their bail.
Bear in mind that, in Canada, bail bondsman or bail bond agents are illegal. An accused person who lacks the financial resources to post the required bail amount is left with no alternative but to await trial in jail. Yet, the purpose of the surety system is not to help the accused raise bail money but to ensure suitable community supervision of the accused.
What Bail Conditions Are Imposed By the Court After Your Release?
A bail denial means you will remain in custody until brought before the trial court. If the judge approves your bail request, you may have to comply with specific conditions, including:
Going no contact with the victim or other people in connection with the offence
Avoiding certain places prohibited by the bail order
Notifying the court of a change in address
Not possessing firearms
Obeying curfews set by the court
Depositing a passport to prevent travel
Attending drug and alcohol testing and treatment programs
Attending periodic meetings with a bail supervisor
If you fail to comply with your bail conditions, the court may revoke your bail. A police officer will arrest you, and a new bail hearing will be scheduled.
Additionally, the court may charge you with a new offence. This could make it very difficult for you to obtain bail in the future.
What Are the Reasons for Denying Bail?
Under the criminal code, there are three justifications for denying bail including:
You will likely not appear in court: The court will deny bail if you have a history of failing to appear. Additionally, you may be considered a flight risk if you have no ties with the court jurisdiction. For example, you live in a different country without an address in Ontario.
Protection of the public: The court may decide to detain you if it is necessary to protect the public. They will consider several factors to determine if you are likely to commit the offence again. If the judge decides you are a substantial risk, you will remain in custody pending trial.
Maintaining confidence in the justice system: The judge may deny you bail if your release will make the public lose confidence in the justice system. They may consider the gravity of the offence and the strength of the prosecution’s case. You will likely remain in police custody for severe crimes.
All accused individuals can speak with a criminal defense attorney before their bail hearing. But, whether the defendant can post bail depends on the seriousness of the crime they are accused of and the defendant’s criminal record. In other words, a previous criminal record can harm the Crown’s decision regarding bail.
Can Bail Conditions Be Modified?
Bail variations allow for modifications to the conditions of your bail. You may apply for a consent variation or bail review hearing in a Superior Court of Justice.
In consent variation, the Crown will agree to modify your bail conditions. But, you will require an attorney’s help to explain the reasons for the modification.
This modification comes with no cost and may happen quickly. However, you must prove why you cannot meet the original bail conditions. If the Crown agrees to the modification, you can fill out an application for consent bail variation with your surety.
You must email the application to the Crown, who will fill out their part and send it to the court. If the Crown disagrees with the modification, you may apply for a bail review in the Superior Court.
You may also apply for a bail review if you are denied bail at your bail hearing. You must give notice of application to the Crown before going to the Superior Court.
You must show a change in your circumstances or an error of law made by the judge. Nevertheless, you must give two days’ notice to the prosecutor before the judge will hear your case. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer represent you at the hearing is always advisable. They can help prepare your case and present a strong argument for your release on bail or modification of your current conditions.
Bail variations are limited, and courts will not grant them without tangible reasons. You must also show that any new condition will be reasonable and necessary to ensure your compliance with the court order. Additionally, you must satisfy the court that your release does not compromise public safety or confidence in the justice system.
Speak to a Lawyer at Sondhi Defence
Securing bail is essential, especially if you are innocent of the charges brought against you. Further, bail allows you to spend time with your loved ones while crafting robust defence strategies.
At Sondhi Defence, we have extensive experience representing clients at their bail hearings. Our lawyers understand criminal law and can guide you through all court proceedings, including bail hearings.
Having a surety at your bail hearing can allow you to be released on bail. But, if your surety is untrained, they may say the wrong things, affecting your chances. We can prepare your surety and guide them through the bail process. Therefore, it makes them confident to stand in court and answer questions.
The type of bail conditions you are released with can seriously impact your life. A skilled Sondhi Defence lawyer can argue for more suitable conditions on your behalf. Contact us today if you are facing criminal charges and need legal advice about your bail hearing.
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.