When an accused is let out on bail to await trial, the judge may place conditions on the release. Failure to comply with these conditions can lead to a charge of ‘failure to comply with condition of undertaking or recognizance.’ This is a separate offence from the original criminal charge. Failure to comply carries a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment which can be added onto a sentence given for the underlying offence. In addition, failure to comply may be detrimental to the offender’s efforts to be released on bail again even for future crimes.
Conditions of release can include regularly checking in with the police or other person such as a surety, remaining in a certain province or jurisdiction, curfews, staying away from certain people or places, prohibitions on possessing a firearm, and any other reasonable restrictions that the judge may determine. Even if the conditions of release do not specifically state that the accused cannot commit further crimes, a person who commits an indictable offence while out on bail can be considered to have breached his or her bail agreement. If the courts or police believe that a provision of bail has been or will be broken, the accused can be arrested.
The conditions of bail placed upon the accused continue in effect until the case is completed. While there is an opportunity at the bail hearing to resolve foreseeable problems with the terms of release such as a curfew that interferes with employment, occasionally circumstances will change or emergencies will arise. In some cases, a lawyer can help negotiate with the court to alter the conditions or contend that noncompliance was necessary.
While failure to comply may seem like less serious than many other criminal offences, the courts take compliance with court orders very seriously. The smooth operation of the criminal justice system depends on people respecting demands from the court. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the conditions of your release or failure to comply charges, a lawyer can help you gain a more in depth understanding of the law as it relates to your situation.