If you were charged with a crime and not released you will have a bail hearing. Understanding the factors that the court considers when deciding whether to release you, and what conditions to impose, can help you prepare to argue for your release.
When making decisions about release judges and Justices of the Peace must pay particular attention to the circumstances of an accused who is Indigenous or from a vulnerable population that is over-represented in the justice system.
If are in police custody you must be brought before a Justice of the Peace (JP) or a judge within 24 hours or as soon as reasonably possible. The judge or JP will release you unless the Crown Prosecutor does not agree to your release.
If the Crown prosecutor does not agree to your release there will be a bail hearing. You can have a lawyer represent you at this hearing. In Saskatoon, Regina and many other locations Legal Aid will represent anyone, regardless of their income, at their bail hearing. Most bail hearings take place in Provincial Court. Bail hearings for a few serious offences, such as murder, go to the Court of Queen's Bench.
At the hearing the Crown Prosecutor must show that there is a good reason to keep you in custody. The Crown Prosecutor will tell the judge about the crime that you are accused of committing and any criminal record you have. You or your lawyer can tell the judge about your personal circumstances, including information about your home life, employment, family and other factors that you think the judge should consider.
The judge or JP will consider...
The judge or JP must release you unless they believe that...
In some cases the Crown Prosecutor does not have to show why the accused person should be kept in jail. In these situations the accused person must argue for their release. This happens if the accused person is not a resident of Canada. This also happens if the accused person is charged with murder or with an indictable offence while on bail for another serious offence, or if the accused person is charged with trafficking in narcotics. In these cases, and a few other situations, the accused person must satisfy the judge that it is safe to release them.
The crown must show that the conditions they are asking for are necessary and why less severe conditions are not appropriate.
At the end of the bail hearing the judge decides whether to release you. If you are released after a bail hearing, you may be required to enter into a recognizance in which you agree to pay a sum of money if you do not appear in court as required. You may or may not be required to actually deposit the sum of money with the court. The judge has to favour a promise to pay over you actually depositing money if you have assets that could be seized if you fail to appear.
If you promise to pay money, you may have to get a surety. A judge can only require this if less severe release conditions would not be enough. A surety is someone who promises to pay money to the court if you do not do the things you promised. If you breach a condition of your release, the surety may not have to pay anything if they can convince the judge that they took all reasonable steps to get you to comply with the conditions.
If you have to pay money to the court you cannot use a personal cheque. The court only accepts...
If you do not have any money...
If you pay money to the court, the money is kept by the court to help make sure you go to court on all your court dates. The money is paid back to you if you make all your court appearances as required.
If you are released after a bail hearing you may also need to sign an undertaking with conditions. The judge or JP can impose any reasonable condition they think is desirable, including things like requiring treatment for substance abuse or counselling for anger management.
After you are released on bail you must…
If you do not go to court on all your court dates or you break your promises …
If any of these things happen it will be up to you to convince the court that you should be released on bail again.
After the bail hearing, whether you are released or not, your case will be adjourned to a later date for what is called your first appearance. Earlier court dates are available for people who are held in custody while they are waiting for court.
PLEA can provide you with information to help you understand many legal matters you, a family member or friend may be facing.