5 Keys to a Successful Bail Hearing
1. Be Prepared
Understand the role of the surety in the justice system: (i) ensuring the accused attends at court; (ii) supervising the accused to ensure compliance with the conditions of the bail order; and, (iii) calling the police if the accused does not comply with any bail conditions.
Take the time to think back about your relationship with the accused. Be able to answer basic questions such as: how long have you known the accused?; where did you meet?; and, when did you last see/speak to each other? For a mother or father these answers may well be easy. For others – such a friend from university – these memories may need to be refreshed.
A surety who is struggling to answer basic question in the middle of their testimony is not a pretty site. The solution is simple: think about these issues beforehand, so that you have the answers easily available when testifying in court.
Be familiar with the allegations and criminal record of the accused. Prior to the bail hearing, your lawyer received a copy of the synopsis and the record of the accused (if any) from the Crown attorney. While they need not be memorized, their contents should be familiar to you. For example, you may not have known about the extent of the accused criminal record, but you should be familiar with it prior to testifying. This accomplishes two things: (i) it demonstrates to the justice that you are taking your role as a surety seriously; and, (ii) prepares you for the Crown attorney’s questions.
2. Know the Plan of Release
Spend time thinking about and designing a plan of release that is responsive to the allegations. A bail hearing lawyer will help you with this task. For example, the plan for an accused with no criminal record and no outstanding charges will be different than a plan for someone without. The stakes are too high to do otherwise. If the justice decides that any of the grounds for detention have not been adequately addressed, bail will be denied.
The surety must obviously know the plan release. If there is more than one surety, speak to each other. The difference between a well thought-out, well designed plan, versus one that is put together on the fly, will be obvious to the court. On other hand, presenting a well thought-out, well designed plan, will go a long way in securing the release of your friend or loved one.
3. Ask Questions Before the Hearing
I always tell my clients and sureties there is no such thing as wrong question. If the question is easily answered, great, then hardly any time was taken up. If the answer is more complicated, even better. That means you are better prepared to answer the questions from the Crown and court, which means we increase our chance of securing bail. So take the time to ask your questions before the bail hearing starts.
4. Tips For Testifying In Court
Be Objective. As discussed, the court will be impressed if you are prepared (know the allegations and the plan of release). It also means being objective. This means making it clear to the court that, despite your relationship to the accused (be it a parent, spouse, or friend) that you will, without a doubt, call the police if there is a breach of a bail term. On the other hand, you will be doing the accused no favours by being seen as their advocate or cheerleader, such as by proposing defences or minimizing the seriousness of the charges. That is the role of your bail hearing lawyer, not you.
Listen to the questions. Listen to the questions posed by the lawyers and think about the answers. Take your time. There is no rush. Don’t guess. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. Having said that, if you have been prepared with your lawyer, there should be few “I don’t know” responses during your testimony.
Keep calm. Testifying can be a stressful experience. And the questioning posed by the Crown attorney may come across as repetitive or unfair. If that happens, getting upset will not help in the effort to obtaining bail for your friend or love one. Instead, keep calm and answer the questions as best you can. In short, don’t let it get to you. If the Crown’s questioning goes too far, your lawyer can raise an objection and the court will intervene.
5. Don’t Rush!
Like most things in life, rushing typically leads to a bad result. Bail hearings are no different.
While you ideally want the bail hearing to be heard immediately (that day), in some situations that will not be the right choice. (For example, where the charge involves a criminal organization or firearms.) Put it this way, your goal is to have your friend or loved one bail released as soon as possible, not to have the hearing scheduled as soon as possible (only to have bail denied).
So take your time. Prepare for the bail hearing. By doing so, you put yourself, friend or loved one in the best possible position of winning the bail hearing.
The stakes are too high to do otherwise: if bail is denied, the accused remains in custody, unless there is a successful appeal of the decision (called a “bail review”).
HERE TO HELP
If you would like to meet with me to discuss your case or any legal problems that you are facing, please contact me to set up a free consultation.
Call 249-266-4222 for an immediate free consultation.
While the right to be released on bail applies to all criminal charges (meaning no offence, no matter how serious, is excluded), the practical reality is that being released on bail is much more difficult when you are facing firearm related charges.