Bail - Bail Hearings

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After an arrest a person may be held in jail until they have a bail hearing. The purpose of a bail hearing is to determine whether the accused person should be released from custody until trial or if they should be detained.

The key aspects of a bail hearing are:

Presumption of Innocence: One of the fundamental principles in Canadian criminal law is the presumption of innocence. This means that every person charged with a criminal offence is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As a result, the accused person has a right to liberty while awaiting trial, provided they do not pose a risk of not appearing in court, they do not pose a risk to public safety, and their release would not cause the public to lose confidence in the administration of justice.

Bail Eligibility: Not all accused individuals are automatically eligible for bail. Some offences, such as certain serious violent crimes, have stricter bail requirements, while others are more likely to result in release. However, the default position in Canadian law is that accused persons are eligible for bail unless there are specific reasons to detain them.

Bail Hearing Process: Under section 503(1) of the Criminal Code, a person who has been arrested must be brought before a Justice of the Peace for bail within 24 hours of their arrest or as soon as possible. The bail hearing is conducted before a judge or justice of the peace. The accused person's lawyer (if they have one) and the Crown present arguments and evidence related to whether the accused should be granted bail. The judge or justice of the peace assesses the case based on three grounds: primary, secondary, and tertiary grounds for bail.

  • Primary grounds: detention is required to ensure that the accused will attend court as required
  • Secondary grounds: detention is required for the protection of the public
  • Tertiary grounds: detention is required to maintain the public’s confidence in the justice system

Bail Conditions: If bail is granted, the court may impose certain conditions that the accused person must follow while they are released. These conditions may include reporting to a police station, refraining from contacting certain individuals, and obeying a curfew, among others.

Release on Recognizance: In some cases, accused individuals may be released on their own recognizance, meaning they do not require a surety. A surety is someone who guarantees the accused person’s compliance with bail conditions.

Detention: If the court believes that releasing the accused person would pose a risk to public safety or a risk of not appearing in court, or that it would cause the public to lose confidence in the justice system, they may be detained until their trial.

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