For someone navigating the criminal justice system for the first time, understanding what to expect (and what is expected of you) can be stressful. After all, you’ve been put in a position where your freedom is at stake, your rights may feel shaky, and your future is on the line.
When it comes to understanding bail conditions, there is a lot to learn and even more at stake. Find out what you need to know and what to do if you need help.
Being released on bail, also known as judicial interim release, means that the Court has reason to believe that you can be released from custody and trusted not to commit a crime, to attend your court dates, and to abide by conditions set out for you.
If you have been released from custody after attending a bail hearing, you will receive a recognizance of bail, a document outlining your upcoming court dates and the conditions of your release.
What Are Bail Conditions?
Bail conditions are rules that you must follow if released on bail. The conditions will vary depending on the person, the case, and other factors but may include the following:
- Obeying a curfew
- Restricted communication with an alleged victim, complainant, or a co-accused
- Being required to live at a certain address
- Not being permitted to go near certain buildings, properties, or addresses
An important aspect of bail is having a surety. Your surety is the person who agrees to vouch for you while you are on bail. They will commit to ensuring that you adhere to your bail conditions and put down money as a form of security for your release. Should you fail to comply with your bail conditions, your surety may lose the money that they pledged.
Breaching Bail Conditions
If there are reasonable grounds to believe that you have not obeyed your bail conditions, the police may issue a warrant for your arrest. Failure to follow bail conditions is called a breach of conditions and can result in a criminal charge.
Another reason that the police may issue a warrant for arrest is if your surety asks to have their duties revoked. If your surety has reason to believe that you haven’t been following the conditions of your bail, that you are at risk of not following the conditions of your bail in the future, or that they no longer feel comfortable in the role, they have the right to request that they be relieved of the position.
What Happens If You’re Arrested
If the police arrest you for not complying with your bail conditions, you may be held in custody for another bail hearing. You will then be tasked with demonstrating to the court why you should be released on bail again. Depending on the circumstances leading up to your second arrest, it may be difficult to convince the Crown to allow you to be released on bail.
If you are held for a bail hearing while already on a recognizance of bail, the Crown may apply to have the recognizance cancelled. This is done by making a Section 524 application which results in your new bail hearing addressing both your previous charges and your current ones.
Your Rights After An Arrest
If you are arrested for not following your bail conditions, it is critical to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. You should avoid answering any questions until you have secured legal help. It is your right to speak to a lawyer and to remain silent until you do. The right to remain silent is protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
A good lawyer will take the time to listen to you, to understand what you’re up against, and to help you navigate the legal system in a way that protects your best interests and pursues your goals. Regardless of why you’re on bail, chances are you’re going to feel overwhelmed. Know that you don’t have to do this alone.