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Bail Hearings

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Experienced Legal Representation for Your Bail Hearing in Alberta or British Columbia

If you are arrested and charged with a criminal offence, you may be required to conduct a bail hearing before a provincial court judge or (judicial) justice of the peace, in order to secure your release from jail.

The importance of a timely bail hearing (or Judicial Interim Release hearing) can’t be overstated. Many months or even years may pass between your arrest and your trial, and securing your release through bail is the best way to keep you working and living normally while preparing for your case and waiting for your trial date.

We’ve provided some basic information below about bail hearings. However, if you or one of your loved ones is facing criminal charges, we encourage you to contact Sprake Song & Konye as soon as possible for a consultation.

I’ve Been Charged with a Crime. Will I be Required to Attend a Bail Hearing?

Most of the time, police are able to decide whether they will release the accused individual without a bail hearing. Police may choose to hold an accused person if they have concerns about the individual being released. Those concerns include the following:

  • Inability to established the accused individual’s identity
  • Reasonable belief that the accused individual will not show up for court
  • Reasonable belief that the accused individual will attempt to destroy evidence relevant to their case
  • Reasonable belief that the accused individual may commit further criminal offences

Once you are arrested, the Criminal Code requires that you appear before a provincial court judge or a (judicial) justice of the peace within 24 hours.

What Will My Bail Hearing Be Like?

This is probably your first time appearing before a judge, who will decide whether you should be held in jail while awaiting your trial or released, potentially with a set of conditions by which you must agree to abide.

To be released, the Court must be satisfied that you will attend court when required, that you will not commit further criminal offences or interfere with witnesses, and that your release will not undermine public confidence in the administration of justice.

Typically, it’s up to the prosecutor to show that you should not be released. However, in some circumstances, you will have the burden to show why you should not be detained.

At the end of your bail hearing, the judge or justice of the peace will order you detained or released.

If you are detained, you have the option to “appeal” to the superior court of the province for a bail review. A bail review will usually require you to order transcripts of your original bail hearing. Upon review, the superior court judge (Supreme Court of British Columbia or Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta) can release you or confirm your detention.

If you are released, you may have to post cash bail or offer a surety. In either case, you will enter into a “contract” called a recognizance, which ordinarily requires you to abide by a number of conditions upon release.

Sureties

A surety is an individual, typically a friend of family member, who will pledge to supervise the accused individual while he or she is released on bail. These proposed sureties agree to ensure that the conditions of release are followed. Sureties will sometimes live with the accused person and often pledge a certain amount of money toward the accused’s bail.

In most cases, the surety won’t actually need to provide the funds. He or she must simply prove access to such funds, sometimes through property deeds or bank statements. The amount required to be pledged varies widely from case to case.

Sureties will often be asked to testify at the bail hearing about how they will supervise the accused while on bail, and perhaps provide some character testimony about the accused.

It’s important that sureties consult closely with an experienced lawyer, as a single wrong answer to a prosecutor’s question could cause bail to be denied. Sprake Song & Konye has extensive experience with bail hearings and can help prepare sureties for the questions they are likely to be asked.

Typical Conditions of Release

Conditions of release can vary widely depending on the severity of the charges leveled against you. Bail restrictions may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Keep the peace and be of good behaviour
  • Attend court when required to do so
  • Report to a bail supervisor on a regular basis
  • Abide by a curfew and comply with monitoring conditions
  • Report any changes of address or employment
  • Stay away from certain locations and areas
  • Have no contact, direct or indirect, with certain individuals, such as co-accused or potential witnesses

Bail Rights

Remember that in Canada, you are innocent until proven guilty. While the Crown prosecutor may present information about you, your criminal history, and the offence of which you are accused, this public disclosure could negatively impact your ability to have a fair trial. You have the right to request a ban on the publication of this information until the resolution of your trial.

While working with a lawyer may not guarantee your release, it can ensure that you are put in the best possible position as your case proceeds to its conclusion.

Your bail hearing is a critical step in the legal process, and Sprake Song & Konye will be your advocate and help you navigate the criminal justice system. Contact us for a consultation today.