If you have a family member who was recently arrested for a criminal offence, this can be an extremely stressful time. Navigating and understanding the criminal justice system is no easy task. The following article goes through the meaning of bail and how to bail a family member (or friend) out of jail.
What Is Bail?
It is written permission from court that allows a person charged with a criminal offence to return to the community and not be jailed while they wait for their trial. Bail is a right protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The law says you can’t be denied reasonable bail, unless they provide a just cause. The grounds to deny bail are:
(1) To ensure the person’s attendance in court (i.e. they are a flight risk);
(2) To protect the public from the accused; or
(3) To maintain confidence in the administration of justice.1 Detaining an accused before their trial is the last resort.
There are good reasons for an accused to get bail while they await their trial. For instance, it is much more difficult to mount a defence while in custody. Being in jail can jeopardize your employment, housing, custody of your children, and the overall quality of your life. An accused is also much more likely to plead guilty if they are denied bail.
What Is A Bail Hearing?
If a person is charge with a crime, the police officer may decide to release them or arrest them. If they are brought into custody, they must have a bail hearing within 24 hours of their arrest.
The bail hearing is where the Crown and the accused’s lawyer present to the judge evidence of why the accused should be (or not) given bail. The Crown prosecutor reads the allegations from the police report and calls any witnesses to testify. The witness for the Crown will likely be the arresting police officer. The accused’s lawyer may have the accused testify. The main goal for the accused’s lawyer is to convince the court that the accused will obey their bail conditions and attend their court dates if released on bail.
How Can A Family Member Help?
Family members can help through being a surety. The availability of a surety can make the court more likely to grant bail. A surety is someone who vows to the court to supervise the accused and ensure they follow their bail conditions and are present for their court dates. The surety is responsible for reporting the accused person if they do not follow their bail conditions. To be a surety, you must:
- Not have a criminal record;
- Be over the age of 18;
- Able to attend court to sign the bail;
- Be a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant;
- Have the capacity to monitor the accused;
- Have some financial assets that you are willing to promise if the accused breaches their bail.2
The money promised to the court is called the “quantum of the bail”. The money does not have to be paid upfront but it must be a significant amount. Generally, you need to prove that you have the money through deeds or a bank statement.
The bail hearing is an important part of the proceedings and it is prudent that you have a plan. If you are looking for more information or have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to discuss your matter over a free consultation. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here