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Bail and Pre-Trial Release: Navigating Felony Charges in Canada

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What Are Indictable Offences and Summary Offences in Ontario?

Serious crimes in Canada are not referred to as felonies; they are “indictable offences.” Crimes comparable to misdemeanors are called “summary offences.” If you are charged with an indictable offence in Ontario, you will need to be represented by a Toronto bail lawyer.

After an arrest, you’ll want to be released to return to your job and family, but what if the court imposes difficult or impossible conditions for your pre-trial release? An Ontario bail lawyer will work to arrange your pre-trial release with the most favorable conditions.

Canada’s bail system complies with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which establishes that anyone who is charged with a crime “has the right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause.”

Which Suspects Are Eligible for Pre-Trial Release?

The police have the discretion to release a suspect who is charged with a minor crime if the suspect promises to appear in court. Depending on the specifics of the charge, suspects who are accused of more serious crimes must appear at a bail hearing in Ontario’s Superior Court or Court of Justice.

A bail hearing must be conducted within twenty-four hours (or as soon as possible) after the arrest. The following questions must be considered when the Superior Court or Court of Justice determines if it should permit a suspect’s pre-trial release:

  1.  Will the suspect’s pre-trial release pose a threat to public safety?
  2.  Will releasing the suspect cause the public to lose confidence in the justice system?
  3.  Will the suspect return for his or her scheduled appearance in court?

What Must Be Considered at a Bail Hearing?

Before a bail hearing, your Toronto bail lawyer will usually speak to the Crown prosecutor about your case. If the Crown believes you can be released, and if your lawyer agrees with the Crown about the conditions and terms of release, a consent release proposal will be offered to the court.

At most bail hearings (“Crown onus” cases), the burden is on the Crown to prove why a suspect should be denied pre-trial release. However, the most serious offences require a suspect to show why the court should allow a pre-trial release. These hearings are called “reverse onus” cases.

A bail hearing also must determine if a suspect is indigenous or belongs to a group that has been disadvantaged by systemic discrimination. This determination must comply with Supreme Court of Canada decisions regarding groups who historically have been disproportionately refused bail.

What Are the Conditions of Pre-Trial Release?

Suspects who are released on bail in Ontario must comply with explicit terms and conditions that are set forth by the court – conditions that address any risk that releasing the suspect may pose to specific individuals or to the general public.

One condition of pre-trial release, for instance, may be house arrest, which requires the suspect to remain at home (except in specific circumstances as spelled out by the court) while awaiting his or her trial. Other conditions that may be imposed for pre-trial release include:

  1.  wearing an electronic monitoring device
  2.  reporting to a peace officer on a regular basis
  3.  notifying the court of any address change or employment change
  4.  remaining in a specific territorial jurisdiction
  5.  surrendering any passports and any devices that provide access to the internet

The court may also order a defendant to refrain from communicating with his or her alleged victim or victims and to refrain from visiting particular locations.

Provinces and territories are obligated by law to monitor compliance with pre-trial release conditions. Any breach of the pre-trial release conditions may result in the revocation of bail. A bail breach may even trigger a new criminal charge and make pre-trial release almost impossible.

What Are a Victim’s Rights in the Bail Process?

If a court is considering the pre-trial release of a suspect charged with a crime of violence against a person – attempted, threatened, or actual violence – the Court must impose conditions that ensure the security and safety of the purported victim.

The court’s pre-trial release order must include a statement that the court considered the security and safety of the alleged victim when it made the decision to release the suspect.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, the purported victim of a crime is entitled to request and receive a copy of the court’s bail hearing order (along with any conditions that are attached to the order).

If You Are Placed Under Arrest

Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, if you are placed under arrest, you must be:

  1.  told why you’ve been arrested and why you are being investigated
  2.  immediately told that you have the right to a defence lawyer
  3.  allowed to speak privately and as soon as possible to your lawyer if you ask to do so

After speaking to your Ontario bail lawyer, the police may ask you more questions. They have the right to ask these questions, but you have a right to remain silent, and you do not have to answer their questions.

The right criminal defence lawyer will handle every aspect of your case, from your bail to your sentencing or acquittal. But how can you locate a lawyer who will make your defence a priority and fight aggressively for the justice you need?

Charged With a Crime? Choose William Jaksa Criminal Litigation

With over fifteen years of experience, criminal defence lawyer William Jaksa has an impressive record of prevailing on behalf of his clients. He leads the legal team at William Jaksa Criminal Litigation, where he has established a reputation for legal excellence.

Defence lawyer William Jaksa focuses on his clients’ best interests, and the team at William Jaksa Criminal Litigation provides outstanding client service. We will answer your legal questions, address your concerns, and protect your rights at every step of the judicial process.

If you need help with a bail hearing or with any other aspect of a criminal case in the Toronto area, now or in the future, call William Jaksa Criminal Litigation as quickly as possible at 647-951-8078. We will put the law to work for you and bring your case to its best possible resolution.

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