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  • Joseph Horrigan

How Bail works in Ontario.

Under the Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms section 11 states “Any person charged with an offence has the right (e) not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause. This is the guiding principal which directs Ontario bail courts.

This doesn’t however mean that everyone who is charged with an offence has to be released while they await their trial. Under Canadian law there are 3 grounds an individual can be detained:

·        Primary –necessary to ensure his or her attendance in court.

·        Secondary –necessary for the protection or safety of the public.

·        Tertiary –necessary to maintain confidence in the administration of justice.

The court can determine that they have concerns on one of these grounds which can be a justification for detaining an individual while they await trial. One way an effective defence counsel can help a client secure a release for a client while they await trial is to come up with an appropriate bail plan.

There are a number of rungs on the bail ladder. What that means is there are all different levels of potential release for a client. At the lowest end you have the client being released on their own with little to no conditions. Moving up the ladder you have a release that places some conditions on the client (for example reporting to the police detachment, being supervised by a bail program curfew).

The next step up would be a surety. A surety is someone who agrees to be the accused’s jailer in the community.  A surety release can take on many different forms. On the low end it can be a non-residential surety who tells the court they will check up on the accused and ensure they attend court. At the high end a surety release can require a deposit of money and a complete house arrest condition for the accused.

If you have a loved one who is in custody the best thing you can do is reach out to a defence lawyer at the earliest possible opportunity to allow them to begin putting together an appropriate release plan to ensure the accused spends as minimal time in custody as possible.

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