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What is a Bail Hearing?

When someone is arrested by the police, they are usually released back into the community as their case makes its way through the criminal court system. Sometimes, however, the individual is kept in custody until their matter is tried or settled. This happens because the criminal justice system has to ensure the safety of the public, and this sometimes means that the more serious and serial offenders are kept in remand until their matter is finally disposed of.


If the police decide not to release an individual after their arrest, then that individual has the right to appear in court before a Judge or Justice of the Peace for a bail hearing. At their bail hearing, the Crown Attorney will have to persuade the court that the accused should be held in custody while awaiting trial, and the accused will have the opportunity to argue the opposite. At LawyerSelect.ca, we'll put you in contact with an experienced Toronto bail lawyer.

What Happens at the Bail Hearing?

There are only two possible outcomes to a bail hearing: the presiding Judge or Justice of the Peace will either:

  • Release the accused on bail until their case is heard in court, or settled. The accused will usually have to abide by certain conditions and restrictions while they're on bail.
  • Detain the accused in custody until the final completion of their matter.

The typical bail hearing begins with the Crown Attorney reading a summary of the criminal allegations against the accused. This is usually provided to them by the police, as the Crown has little to no information about the allegations at this early stage. It is at this point that the Crown will inform the accused and their lawyer on whether or not they will oppose or consent to the accused's release. If they consent, then all that's left to iron out are the conditions by which the accused will have to abide. If they oppose, then an actual bail hearing will be required.


The bail hearing plays out like a mini-trial: the accused, their sureties, and any witnesses may take the stand to give evidence on matters related to the accused's charges. Both the Crown and the defence may call witnesses to testify to strengthen their case. However, the burden rests upon the Crown to convince the court that the accused should be held in custody while awaiting trial. This is because the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms bestows upon all persons charged with a criminal offence the right to reasonable bail, unless the Crown is able to show just cause to hold the accused in custody.


The circumstances where an accused person will be denied bail are limited and narrowly defined. However, if the court finds that the accused posses a threat to public safety, is a flight risk, or their detention is necessary to ensure public confidence in the administration of justice, then an accused person may be held  in custody until their charges are finally disposed of. At LawyerSelect.ca, we'll put you in touch with a Toronto bail lawyer who will guide you through the entire bail process.

The Importance of Securing Bail

The benefits of securing bail seem obvious: the accused will remain free until his matter is decided, rather than locked up in a local jail. Those are the obvious benefits. The less obvious benefits are just as important, if not more important. If the accused is denied bail, then they'll be detained for a possibly lengthy period of time. This has the effect of weakening their negotiating position with the Crown Attorney, who will be less inclined to reach a settlement that benefits the accused because they know the accused wants to be released and may likely agree to a deal that they wouldn't otherwise agree to. Similarly, when an accused is detained, he or she may plead guilty to an offence that they did not commit just to get out of jail. Additionally, if the charges are of a more serious nature, then the trial preparation will suffer since there will be fewer meetings between the accused and his/her lawyer than there would be if the accused was free on bail. At LawyerSelect.ca, we'll put you in contact with a Toronto bail lawyer who has experience dealing with Toronto Bail Hearings - Hire a Toronto Bail Lawyer now!

What is a Surety?

The legal role of the surety is something that's unique to the Canadian justice system, and has no counterpart in the American justice system. Put simply: a surety is responsible for the accused while they are out on bail. Some have analogized the surety-accused relationship with the jailer-inmate relationship. When the accused is released on bail, the court appoints someone or someones as the surety for the accused. This creates a legal burden, as well as a financial burden on the surety. It is the surety that posts the accused's bond by pledging money or assets as a guarantee that the accused will attend court as required. Since it's usually the surety's money or assets that they've pledged, they'll have an incentive in ensuring the accused abides by the terms and conditions of the bail. For example, if the accused's bail requires them to be at home from 8 pm to 7 am, then it'll be up to the surety to ensure that they abide by that condition.


In the event that the accused breaches a condition of their bail, and the Crown decides that they're going to go after the surety's bond, then a hearing will be held in Superior Court to decide the matter.

How Many Bail Hearings Can an Accused Have?

You're only entitled to one bail hearing, but often times the hearing is adjourned to prepare witnesses and documents, and rescheduled to a later date. Once completed, however, you don't get another shot at that level of court. Your only recourse if you've been denied bail is to hold a bail review in the Superior Court of Justice. This process is akin to an appeal from a conviction. It requires a lot of preparation, including obtaining transcripts from the bail hearing and preparing the necessary filing material. Furthermore, bail reviews are only held on certain days of the week, thereby limiting their availability.

Lawyer Strategies for Bail Hearings

Attention to detail: it'll be up to your lawyer to contact proposed sureties, prepare witnesses and conduct legal research. You only get one shot at this thing, so it's got to be done right the first time.


Obtaining the least restrictive bail: it's not just enough to secure the accused's release. The success or failure of a bail hearing will have a lot to do with the type of restrictive conditions that the court imposes on the accused while they're on bail. If the accused is  subject to very restrictive conditions, like house arrest for example, then there is a good possibility that they will become frustrated with their situation, especially as the days turn into months. That's why it is vitally important the your Toronto bail lawyer obtain the least restrictive bail possible, so as to help ensure an accused doesn't breach any conditions. 


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