Bail hearings are one of the most important stages of a criminal proceeding. It is when an individual’s freedom is first tested. You should ask yourself: “Do I spend the time waiting for my trial in jail?” Certainly not. You should focus all your efforts in being released pending your trial. But getting out is only half the battle. Without an experienced lawyer, you might be placed under very restrictive and unnecessary bail conditions. Could you imagine waiting over a year for your trial to take place and being told that you will be arrested and charged with a new offence if you leave your house. It is important that competent and experienced counsel guide you through the bail hearing to avoid unnecessary conditions. My experience with bail hearings will ensure that you have someone on your side to negotiate a bail so you can carry on with your normal life as much as possible while waiting for your case to conclude.
If this is your first experience of a bail hearing here are some frequently asked questions to help you understand and negotiate your way through the process.
What is bail?
Bail is written permission from a court, allowing a person charged with a criminal offence to be out of jail while they wait for their trial, or some other result in their case (such as a guilty plea or a withdrawal of their charges).
What is a bail hearing?
When someone is arrested and charged with a criminal offencethey may be released if they sign a form saying they promise to attend court on the date given to them by the police. If the police do not release them, the person who has been charged (who is called the accused) will be taken to court where a decision to release them or not will be made. In some cases, a bail hearing, which is like a short trial, is held and a judge or a justice of the peace decides whether the accused will get out on bail.
What is a surety?
A surety is a person who comes to court and promises to a judge or a justice of the peace to supervise an accused person while they are out on bail.
A surety also pledges or promises an amount of money to the court by signing a type of bond called a recognizance. By doing this, the surety risks losing some or all of the money they have promised to the court if the accused doesn’t follow one or more of the bail conditions or fails to show up to court when required.
Can I be a surety?
A surety should be an adult Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, and generally not have a criminal record. If you do have a minor criminal record or one that is fairly old and/or minor, you might still be allowed to be a surety.
If you are the alleged victim of the offence, you cannot be the accused’s surety.
A surety should be able to show to the court that they have enough assets to cover the amount of the bail. You are not required to deposit cash in most cases, but you must be “good” for the amount on the bail. The assets can include real estate in your name, bank accounts, and investments
Responsibilities of a Surety
1. Making sure the accused person comes to court on time and on the right dates.
2. Making sure that the accused person obeys each condition of the bail order, also known as a recognizance.
3. Conditions may require the accused person to report to the police and obey a curfew. They may also order the accused to not possess weapons, drink alcohol and/or communicate directly or indirectly with the victim or victim’s family. This means that you as the surety are also not to communicate on behalf of the accused person with the victim or the victim’s family.
4. If you are accepted as a surety, you must sign the recognizance. It means that you agree to pay a specified amount of money if the accused person fails to obey the court order.
Call me now if you or someone you know has been arrested and is being held in custody pending a bail hearing. I can help you get them out of jail.