What is Bail?

After arrest and charging an individual, the police often releases a person within 24 hours with or without conditions. The accused then generally retains a lawyer and engages in the Court process. Where a person is charged with a criminal offence and is not released after arrest, the accused needs to apply for “bail”. We represent individuals charged with a criminal offence who need a bail hearing in the Milton, Hamilton, Guelph, Brampton, Niagara Region and other areas throughout Ontario. When the police hold a person for bail, he or she must be brought before a court within 24 hours of arrest at the latest. A person will often be brought to bail court the morning after arrest. An experienced criminal lawyer can negotiate with the Crown to increase the chances of a “consent release” and to obtain favourable bail conditions. A consent release is the fastest way of getting bail. If the prosecution does not consent, then a court must decide if the accused should be detained pending trial. This is referred to as a “bail hearing” or “show cause hearing”.

It is always a priority to get a person released as soon as possible. However, rushing into a bail hearing with a weak bail plan can result in a detention order and unnecessary time and considerable expense spent in custody while the ruling is appealed. It is therefore important to get professional advice to prepare a solid bail plan at an early time. At a bail hearing a Justice of the Peace or Judge determines if the person should be released or held in custody until trial. These hearings are known as “show cause” or ‘judicial interim release’ hearings.

What is a Surety?

On television shows we often see people hiring bail bondsman or making large cash deposits with the court. This is not how bail works in Ontario. Here, you can assist getting someone out of jail by acting as a surety. Usually a large cash deposit is not necessary. Alternatively, you can assist by finding a suitable surety, if you are unable act as one yourself.

A surety is a person who promises to take responsibility for a person accused of a crime. Being a surety is a serious responsibility.

The job of a surety includes:

  • Ensuring the accused abides comes to court at the appointed time and abides by his conditions of a bail order or release
  • These conditions may require the accused person to report to the police and obey a curfew. The Court may also order the accused to not possess weapons, drink alcohol, or engage in non-pharmaceutical drug use, and not to communicate directly or indirectly with the victim or witnesses
  • Immediately reporting any breaches of the bail order to the police.

You may be an appropriate surety if you are relatively close to the accused (a parent, spouse, partner, relative or close friend). You should not have a recent (preferably any) criminal record. You also would be able to show the Court that you have time and interest to ensure that the accused is following his release conditions.

The role of a surety lasts until the charges are resolved by an acquittal or finding of guilt, which may take a considerable time. You can end your role as a surety at any time by attending Court with the accused and asking to be relieved of your responsibilities.

In most cases, the surety does not deposit any money with the court. Instead, the surety signs a bond promising to pay the court a fixed amount of money if the accused breaches the bail order. Bail is not reserved for wealthy people or property owners. Rather, the amount of the bond must be sufficient to give the court confidence that the surety understands the seriousness of his or her obligations.

The accused will also enter into a bond to ensure compliance with the bail conditions. In some cases, the accused will be required to deposit a sum of money to the court.

If the accused is found guilty of breaching the bail order, the Crown may ask the Court to make you pay the money you committed as a surety. An “estreatment” hearing will be scheduled. It will give you an opportunity to explain why you should not lose your money. The judge may order that you pay all, part, or none of the money you promised as a bond.