If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with a crime, you may be wondering what happens next. In many circumstances, the police can choose whether a bail hearing is necessary prior to releasing the accused. The police will base their decision on a number of factors including: the likelihood that the accused will appear for future court dates; the possibility that the accused may commit more crimes if released; and the seriousness of the charge. Regardless of the decision made, the accused must show up for trial. Failing to appear in court can lead to arrest and conviction of a separate criminal offence on top of the original offence.
In cases where a bail hearing is required, the accused will go before a judge who will determine whether bail should be granted and lay out the conditions of release. Conditions for release may include regularly checking in with the police, requirements that the accused stay away from certain people or places, curfews, or any other conditions that the judge believes are necessary to maintain order and assure that the accused will appear for trial.
It is very common for a judge to require a surety to take responsibility for the accused upon release. A surety can be a friend, family member, or any individual who can supervise the accused. The responsibilities of a surety will vary depending on the situation but the surety must be willing and able to notify the police of any violations or possible violations of the conditions of release. Additionally, the accused may have to reside with the surety. During the bail hearing, the judge may ask the surety to explain what measures they will take to ensure that the accused is in compliance with the conditions of release. A lawyer can help a surety create a plan and prepare to answer questions in court.
Sureties are often required to pledge a sum of money that can be collected if the accused does not appear in court. It is a common misconception that payment is required before release. Unlike the United States, where money is paid upfront and then returned when accused shows up to court, in Canada, a judge will typically only require that the surety have the assets available to pay in case the accused does not show up. There are no hard and fast rules regarding how much money is required. In determining the amount, the judge will consider the seriousness of the crime, previous offences, the family or employment status of the accused, the assets of the surety, and any other factors that will affect the probability of the accused showing up in court.
Even though a bail hearing will not determine guilt or innocence on a charge, the outcome of the bail hearing is usually critical for the accused. Having a lawyer with you every step of the way will make the process go more smoothly and ensure the best possible outcome available for the case.