How Does Bail Work in Ontario? Ontario’s Bail System
When charged with a criminal offence in Ontario, it is up to the police to decide whether to release the person on a “promise to appear” or hold them for a bail hearing, also known as “judicial interim release.”
Whether someone is released or held for bail depends on several factors, including the gravity of the offence(s), whether there is previous criminal record (if any), and whether the individual has any outstanding charges.
What is Bail?
Put simply, bail is a process that will determine if an individual charged with a criminal offence will remain detained in custody or be released while awaiting trial.
An accused person goes into custody and must remain there until appearing in court for their bail hearing. If released on bail, the accused must comply with specific conditions until the end of the trial. The nature of the conditions and requirements will vary, depending on the background of the accused and the nature and seriousness of the allegations.
What Happens During a Bail Hearing?
The Criminal Code states you are entitled to a bail hearing within 24 hours of arrest or “as soon as possible” if justice is not immediately available. According to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, any person charged with an offence has the right not to be denied bail without just cause.
At the bail hearing, the Crown will present the court with the allegations, sometimes calling in a witness to provide testimony. A defence lawyer will then make submissions as to why his client’s detention is unjustified. In other words, this states why the accused should be released on bail on the least restrictive conditions.
Depending on the nature of the offence and on the accused’s previous criminal history, the Court will then decide if the defendant should be released on bail or held until trial.
How Long Does a Bail Hearing Take?
In a bail hearing, a judge determines if an accused individual should go out to the community or remain in jail until trial. It can take up to a year or more for a trial to happen; however, bail in the province of Ontario should take 24 hours, given that our law states that the bail hearing must take place as soon as possible after an arrest.
The accused will remain in custody until trial if the justice denies bail. Since it will be a long time before a trial is held, a person in custody has to make the tough decision of either fighting the charge or pleading guilty to secure their freedom, with the consequences of doing so being significant.
How Much Does Bail Cost?
Whether an accused is released on their own recognizance or with a surety (an individual who promises to monitor the accused to ensure court attendance and compliance with bail conditions), the quantum of the bail is set as a “promise to pay.” In the great majority of cases, the court does not get any payment. For example, if the bail is at $500, the money is not paid into court immediately. Instead, the accused or surety will only be liable to pay this amount if the bail is breached or the accused does not attend court.
The court may demand a cash deposit in limited circumstances, such as if the accused is not an ordinary resident of Ontario or resides more than 200 km from where held in custody. In these circumstances, a cash deposit must be paid to the court before the accused is released.
How a Criminal Defence Lawyer Can Help You During a Bail Hearing?
If you or someone you know is expecting a bail hearing while waiting on trial, a criminal defence lawyer can explain your concerns.
Let us help you with your bail hearing and secure your release or that of a loved one as soon as possible.
Contact An Experienced Bail Hearing Lawyer Toronto, Ontario
With over 20 years of experience, Richard Fedorowicz will answer your questions and concerns about bail hearings. Reach out to us today at 249-266-4222 for a 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.