Everything You Need to Know About Canada’s Bail System

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Bail System
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In crime shows and movies, we often see someone paying a considerable sum of money to bail their friends or family members out of jail. People will go to great lengths to acquire enough money to get someone out of jail, and once they do, it seems like everything gets dropped.

This, however, is not how the Canadian bail system actually works.

Understanding the bail system is important for anyone being charged with a crime, so here is everything you need to know.

What is Bail?

If you have been charged with a crime and are awaiting your trial, you may be released on something called judicial interim release, more commonly known as bail. This allows the accused to be temporarily released with the purpose of maintaining the notion that you are innocent until proven guilty.

Let’s say you’ve been charged with a crime in Ontario. The first thing you will want to do is to hire a criminal defence lawyer in Toronto. Having a great lawyer is the only way to ensure you are released on fair bail conditions and will have the best outcome possible once your case reaches trial.

How Bail is Determined

Section 11. e of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that “any person charged with an offense has the right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause.”  But what is reasonable bail? What is just cause?

Depending on the severity of the crime you are being accused of, bail may not be an option. For example, if you are being charged with murder, you will likely be deemed too dangerous to re-enter society before your trial takes place.

In this instance, you will be brought to court within 24 hours or as soon as a justice is available.

It is possible that the court will order a cash bail; however, it is meant to be set at an amount that does not go beyond the means of the accused or their family.

Terms of Bail

Although you won’t be as restricted on bail as you would be awaiting your trial in prison, there are still conditions that you must follow. Conditions of your bail may include a curfew, police check-ins, abstaining from drugs or alcohol, and being required to stay at one address. Conditions are meant to be tailored to each individual based on the crime committed and the accused’s history.

Breaking the terms of your bail could result in criminal charges.

According to the Supreme Court of Canada, everyone should be granted bail without conditions unless their release poses a risk to themselves or society. Imposing strict bail conditions on individuals without considering their circumstances may be setting them up for failure, creating what has been referred to as an unbreakable “cycle of incarceration.”

This, however, is not always what occurs and is a contributing factor to the overcrowding of the Canadian judicial system. For example, setting the condition of abstaining from alcohol on an alcoholic should not be allowed as it is not reasonable to expect an alcoholic to quit cold turkey.

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