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.