Monthly Archives: October 2015

What You Need to Know About Bail Hearings

Bail hearings are part of due process for criminal offences. Everyone is entitled to a bail hearing, regardless of the criminal offence and charges being filed against them. However, not everyone will be granted bail. Bail is granted based upon several factors, including:

1. The flight risk of the defendant. If it is deemed the person is a flight risk, where they might attempt to flee and would not attend all court appearances, bail could be denied.

2. The risks to the general public. If the defendant’s release would create a risk to the general public, bail may not be granted.

3. The likelihood the defendant would commit further criminal offences. If there is a chance the defendant would commit criminal offences if released, bail can be denied.

4. The evidence the Crown has obtained. The defendant can be kept in custody in cases where the Crown has a strong case and the defendant’s release would hurt the public’s confidence in the legal system.

In Ottawa there are two common types of bail hearings conducted, largely based upon the criminal offence. The first one is called Appearance Notice Release (Promise to Appear). This type of hearing is normally conducted by the arresting police agency, not the court. It is used in cases where the person has no prior criminal record or only minor infractions on the record, or the offence was a minor infraction.

Securing release under an Appearance Notice Release is at the police agency’s discretion. There is no formal bail hearing conducted. Although, the police could impose specific conditions for setting bail that you must agree with prior to being released, such as:

• Travel Restrictions

• No Contact with Complainants

• Promise to Appear at All Court/Legal Proceedings

• Promise to Report to Police for Identification Purposes (Fingerprinting)

• No Alcohol Usages

• No Further Violations

• Following a Curfew

• Avoid Specific Locations/Addresses

• Upholding the Peace

In cases where you do not agree to certain imposed conditions for release, it is possible to challenge these in court with help from your Ottawa criminal defence lawyer, later once you case is reviewed in front of a judge. If you want to get out of jail, then accept the conditions initially until you have time to meet with a lawyer and discuss your reasons why you want to request they be changed.

The second type of bail hearing is called a Recognizance Release. This bail hearing is conducted in court in front of a judge. It is used in cases where the arresting police agency has reservations about granting an Appearance Notice Release, the defendant has a lengthy criminal record, the defendant was already on bail for another criminal offence, or the offence committed is considered more serious. During a Recognizance Release hearing, the Crown’s lawyers will present any evidence they feel relevant in the event they do not want the defendant released.

For this type of bail hearing, you should have a criminal defence lawyer represent your interests. Just like an Appearance Notice Release, the judge can impose specific conditions and terms for the release. In addition, there is often some form of cash deposit or surety required before release is granted.

It should be mentioned there are always unique circumstance and exceptions in every case. As such, the information provided above should not be used as actual legal advice and only for general information purposes. If you or a loved one has been arrested and is waiting for a bail hearing, it is better to retain the services of an experienced criminal lawyer in Ottawa, like Céline Dostaler. Call 613-695-8595 now for sound legal advice and to discuss your charges in more detail.

What You Need to Know About Domestic Assault

Domestic assault is considered a serious criminal offence throughout Canada. While it is a form of assault, Canadian Laws have defined the charge as its own specific offence since it involves assault on a family member, relative or other close relation by the accused. The law distinguishes between normal assault offences and domestic assault offences by examining whether the assault was committed in the context of a preexisting relationship between the person being charged and the victim. If the police and Crown establish such a relationship, then the person is charged with a domestic offence.

Even though domestic assaults are essentially the same criminal offences as normal assaults, the Ottawa courts treat them differently due to the trust created through close, personal relationships. In addition, the person charged with domestic assault can have their life turned upside down since the Crown normally imposes specific terms and conditions as part of the conditions for bail. This could involve not having contact with the accused person’s spouse, partner, or even their children.

One of the main concerns with domestic assault is when someone in a relationship uses it as a means to address other domestic issues and problems. For instance, a couple might be verbally arguing and one person gets so upset they call the police and claim they were assaulted by the other person. At this point, the police are required to conduct a full investigation into the claim. In the event the accused did, in fact, commit any form of assault, they can be charged by the Crown.

Keep in mind domestic assault is the intentional use of force or threat of force against the victim without their consent. If the accused simply verbally threatened to use force on the victim, without their consent, the police and Crown can charge the person with a form of domestic assault called uttering threats. This is also a very serious criminal offence. Uttering threats is making threats against the person, their property or their pets. Threats can be verbal, text messages, or emails.

Even if the complainant later changes their mind, they do not have the luxury of dropping the charges. Once a claim has been filed with the police and the Crown has determined there are grounds for a domestic assault offence, the Crown will proceed with prosecuting the accused.

Further, the complainant does not have to be the person being assaulted. A neighbour, relative, or close friend has the right to contact the police and report suspected domestic assault. Domestic assault is a serious criminal offence which can drastically impact a person’s life. If you have been charged with domestic assault, you need to obtain experienced legal representation from Ottawa criminal lawyer, Céline Dostaler. Call 613-695-8595 today for a complimentary case evaluation.