Nov 29

What Happens at a Bail Hearing?

A bail hearing is one of the most crucial court appearances. Statistics show that being released on bail pending your trial increases your chances of success at trial. Further, the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Myers acknowledged the substantial harms that pre-trial custody has on the individual in custody, and on the individual’s family.

If you or someone you know needs a lawyer to conduct a bail hearing, contact the experienced bail hearing lawyers of Lockyer Zaduk Zeeh at 416-613-0416, or after-hours at 416-613-8764. For years, Lockyer Zaduk Zeeh have been representing people during their bail pending trial and their bail pending appeal. We have a successful track record of securing our clients release on bail even if they are facing the most serious of charges and for the most difficult of cases.

Will I Need a Surety?

When your matter is in bail court, a bail vetting Crown will review the file and provide their position on release to your lawyer. This could include release on your own recognizance, release to a surety, or the Crown can advise that they are opposed to your release and will be seeking a detention order.

Although, a surety is not always required, it is best practice to ensure one is available during your bail hearing in case the Crown is willing to consent to a surety release. The Crown may be willing to consent to a residential surety or a non-residential surety and having one available will ensure you are released on the same date.

You and your lawyer may disagree with the Crown’s screening position, and that can be addressed through a contested bail hearing, or through a stream-lined Tunney hearing.

Where Will the Bail Hearing Happen?

The bail hearing will occur at the courthouse where the accused’s criminal charges are. If your criminal charges are from the City of Brampton, your bail hearing will happen at the Brampton courthouse.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most bail hearings have been conducted over the Zoom platform. This will save you from travelling to the courthouse and having to wait around the courthouse until your loved one’s bail hearing is reached. Virtual bail hearings remain in most courthouses, but some jurisdictions have bail hearings running, exclusively, in person again. As a surety, you need to be prepared to attend court in person, if required.

Can I be a Surety?

A surety is responsible for the accused. They are required to ensure that the accused person does not commit any further criminal offences, that they attend court as required and that they are following the terms of their release order. Upon signing the release order, the surety is making a promise to the court that they will fulfill their duties and obligations. A surety’s loyalty lies with the court, not the accused, regardless of the surety’s relationship to the accused person.

Some factors that the court takes into consideration when determining a proposed surety’s suitability are as follows: the proposed surety has no criminal record (or a very limited or dated criminal record), has some status in Canada, has an ability to pledge a financial amount, and can supervise as required by the Court (for example, if the Court requires a house arrest, the surety can, or in combination with other sureties, supervise the accused on a house arrest).

How Much Will I Need to Pledge?

The financial pledge is, in most cases, a promise to the Court to pay a specific sum of money if the accused individual breaches their bail. Only rarely is a cash deposit required.

If the bail order is agreed upon, the financial pledge will also be agreed upon by the parties. Unlike the American bail system, the financial pledge is rarely a barrier for release since our Charter requires reasonable bail. Many individuals that come before the Court have varying financial circumstances and that is taken into consideration when a release order is fashioned.

If the bail is a contested bail hearing, the financial pledge will be determined by the Justice of the Peace. During your testimony, and in a surety affidavit, you will advise the Court how much you are willing to pledge. The Court may set the bail in that amount or decide that a higher or lower amount may be appropriate given the specific circumstances of the case.

What Level of Supervision is Needed?

The level of supervision may be decided after a discussion between your lawyer and the bail vettor. The lawyer and bail vettor will discuss the case, including background facts about the accused, and the potential level of supervision required.

If your lawyer and the Crown cannot agree to a bail plan, a contested bail hearing will happen. During this bail hearing, the facts will be read out, the accused criminal record will be filed, the potential sureties will provide evidence, and a bail plan will be proposed. If the Justice of the Peace decides to release the accused after the bail hearing, they will decide the terms of release. This could include a reside condition, a curfew condition, a house arrest condition, and/or other conditions which are appropriate in the circumstances of the individual case (i.e. non-communication for domestic violence charges).

Will it be a Contested Bail Hearing?

Your lawyer and the Crown will discuss the possibility of a consent release. This is always the first step that is undertaken by bail hearing lawyers. Your release without running the risk of a detention order is always in your best interests. Only after the possibility of a consent release has been exhausted, and a release order was not agreed upon, will your bail hearing be contested. Once a bail hearing starts, the decision to release and, if so, on what terms, will be left to the Justice of the Peace after they have heard all the evidence and submissions by both counsel. An experienced bail hearing lawyer will be able to assist you through this process, and help maximize your prospects of being released on bail pending your trial.