After an accused person has been arrested and charged with a criminal code offence the arresting police officer may release that person from the scene or the police station.  However, depending on the nature of the allegations, the accused’s personal circumstances and their criminal record, the police may decide to hold the person for a bail hearing within 24 hours.

Having an experienced criminal defence lawyer is important to securing a reasonable bail with reasonable bail conditions. For over 15 years William Jaksa has been conducting contested bail hearings and bail reviews in Ontario. He is an experienced criminal lawyer that understands restrictive bail conditions or house arrest conditions are not always required to ensure compliance with a judicial interim release order. An effective bail supervision plan should focus on the unique circumstances of the accused person, the nature of the outstanding charges, on any safety concerns, and proposed supervision offered by one or more sureties. An accused person’s release on a reasonable bail should be the normal outcome after a fair show cause hearing.  

Unfortunately, often proposed sureties are unprepared for a contested bail hearing and often fail to adequately address the Crown’s concerns on one or more of the three grounds a judge or justice must assess when determining if an accused’s detention is necessary. Sometimes the proposed sureties, even though honestly well intentioned, are simply unacceptable for the role or responsibility. Other times the presiding justice finds that proposed supervision plan is inadequate for accused person’s unique circumstances. Failing to present one or more acceptable sureties or an acceptable proposed plan of supervision will result in a detention order and an accused person remaining in jail until their trial date or the matter is resolved. Being denied a release order will often increase legal costs, interfere with employment, limit a person’s defence options and create undue stress on a person’s family. Its important that a criminal lawyer is retained soon after a person’s arrest to commence preparing a release plan and the proposed sureties to testify in criminal court.

Toronto, ON, Canada - September 18, 2017 police car in traffic streetcar


Bail in Canada is a type of contract between a person held in custody and/or their proposed sureties (if required) the Crown Attorney’s office and the Court. The Court releases the person held in custody in exchange for a promise or guarantee that the accused will abide by the release conditions. Often a person (referred to as a surety) promises to supervise an accused and pledges an amount of money to the court as a guarantee. If the accused fails to follow the conditions of their release or make their court appearance the bail amount promised can be forfeited to the court. The bail remains in force until the criminal charges are disposed of. Release conditions can be varied with consent of the Crown prosecutor in the appropriate cases.


Experienced defence counsel will be able to assist in preparing a suitable supervision plan, preparing the proposed sureties to testify in court, and help organize the various documents required during a contested bail hearing. Not every bail hearing is the same. There is no one supervision plan that will work for every criminal charge. Bail hearings for domestic violence cases have a completely different set of considerations than a drug trafficking case or careless driving causing death case. The proposed surety will need to understand their role and responsibilities as they differ upon the criminal offences before the court.


A bail hearing is a Court proceeding that typically happens before a Justice of the Peace to determine whether an accused person can be released on bail. The Crown will present the allegations and briefly explain why they believe and recommend the accused person should be kept in jail. The bail lawyer can then call evidence and present sureties for the Court’s consideration. Through the sureties, the lawyer will attempt to show why the accused should be released and how they will be supervised. After all evidence has been called, both the Crown and bail lawyer will present their arguments to the Court.

When deciding whether to release an accused person the Court must consider a number of factors including:

  • EWhether the accused will show up for trial – does the accused reside in the jurisdiction?
  • EHow serious are the allegations?
  • EHow strong is the Crown’s case against the accused?
  • EIs the alleged victim or the public in need of protection from the accused?
  • EWill the accused commit more crimes while on bail or interfere with the witnesses?
  • ECan the proposed sureties properly supervise the accused?
  • ECan the Court trust the sureties to supervise the accused person?
  • EIs the proposed supervision plan appropriate for this case?
  • EWhat will the public think if the accused is released on bail?
  • EWhat are the personal circumstances of the accused?


A surety is responsible for supervising the accused while they are on bail. They are to ensure that the accused attends court when required, not commit any further crimes, and follow all the conditions of their bail. The Court always wants to ensure that the best person possible is acting as a surety for the accused and will usually look to family members first.


Typically the Court only requires a surety to pledge or promise an amount of money in support of a person’s bail. This practice varies from one courthouse to the next, but the surety is often required to prove that they have the funds already in savings prior to the accused’s arrest. If an accused does not live in the jurisdiction where they were arrested, then they may need to deposit money with the Court.


Bail conditions are intended to be tailored to the accused person’s personal circumstances in light of the allegations. The Court is concerned about the accused showing up for court, not committing any further offences while on bail and not interfering with the administration of justice. Therefore bail conditions should be crafted to meet the Court’s concerns and the public’s safety while still having some nexus with the allegations and the circumstances of the accused.


Below are some recent articles written by William Jaksa regarding bail hearings and bail hearing procedures:

How to Bail Someone Out of Jail

What to do if Denied Bail


The Supreme Court of Canada creates the law, the judicial considerations and procedures surround bail hearings in Canada. However, every region in Canada adjusts the law for its regional considerations. Below are two important SCC decision on bail hearings:

R. v. Antic, [2017] 1 S.C.R. 509

R. v. St-Cloud, [2015] 2 S.C.R. 328


If an accused has been denied bail during a Bail Hearing, depending on the reasons given by the Court for denying bail, a bail review in the Superior Court of Justice may be an option. Bail Reviews require planning and time to organize and could take a few weeks. If you have been denied bail contact William Jaksa, an experienced Bail Lawyer in Toronto, to work on your case.