Legal Services | Bail
Bail Hearing Lawyers
Alberta Bail Hearing Lawyers
A bail hearing is one of the most important steps in the criminal process. Remand facility conditions are often over-populated and harsh with a lack of activities and programming. Because most trials do not occur until several months after the initial arrest, individuals may be held in custody for significant periods of time while awaiting trial.
It is extremely important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you or a loved one is arrested and held in custody. The lawyers at Davidson Gregory have experience conducing bail hearings in front of Justices of the Peace, Provincial Court Judges and Court of Queen’s Bench Justices.
What is bail?
Most individuals are not held in custody for the time period between being charged and going to trial. Instead, most individuals are released directly by the Peace Officer on “bail,” or “judicial interim release.” Quite often, the police will release a person charged on an Appearance Notice or an Undertaking. An individual who is not released directly by the Police will be brought before a Justice of the Peace or a Judge for a bail hearing. A bail hearing must be held within 24 hours of your arrest.
Justice of the Peace Bail in Alberta operates between 8:00 AM and midnight every day (including weekends). The bail hearing lawyers at Davidson Gregory will appear on your behalf to apply for your bail or judicial interim release if you have been arrested and are being held in custody.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms specifically recognizes your right to bail in section 11(e): Any person charged with an offence has the right (e) not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause. This is because of the presumption of innocence, a tenant of our Criminal law system in Canada. What this means for you is that in most cases, detention is to be the exception.
In R v Antic, 2017 SCC 27, our Supreme Court confirmed that your release is also favoured at the earliest reasonable opportunity and on the least onerous grounds: this is known as the “Antic ladder.” The Antic ladder requires a Court to consider each type of release or “rung of the ladder”, reject it and provide reasons for that rejection before moving on to a more restrictive form of release. The typical forms of release, in order, are as follows:
- Release Order without conditions
- Release with conditions, without a promise to pay
- Release with conditions, with a promise to pay
- Release with conditions, with a surety, with or without a promise to pay
- Release with conditions, with a financial deposit (“cash bail”), with or without an additional promise to pay
- Release with conditions, with a financial deposit (“cash bail”), with a surety and with or without an additional promise to pay
Grounds of Release
For most offences, the default form of bail is to release individuals on an undertaking without any conditions. However, conditions restricting your activities or actions can be imposed if the Crown satisfies the Court that those restrictions are necessary and relevant to one of the following grounds:
- The primary ground – ensuring your attendance in Court
- The secondary ground – protection and safety of the public
- The tertiary ground – public confidence in the administration of justice
This means that the presumption of innocence is balanced against the importance of these three grounds to determine whether you can be released from custody pending trial.
Often, if an individual presents a risk in one of these areas, conditions can be crafted to address the Courts concerns on one or more of these grounds. The lawyers at Davidson Gregory can help create a release plan for you that mitigates the risk in these areas. A release plan can involve everything from living with a friend or family member while you await trial, to sureties or even setting up an electronic monitoring bracelet for the duration of your release.
Our Alberta Bail Hearing lawyers have the ability to speak to the person charged while they are being detained by the Police. Our initial goal is to get the Bail Crown to consent to your release and negotiate the conditions you are released on. If the Bail Crown is opposed to your release, it may be best to wait and speak to bail in Provincial Court. This allows our team to gather additional information and develop a more comprehensive release plan to present to the Court to give you the best chance of getting release.
Breaching Your Bail Conditions or Terms of Release
Parliament has made it a separate criminal offence to breach the conditions of your bail. If you do not comply with one or more of your bail conditions, you can receive additional criminal charges.
You can still be charged with these additional breach offences even if you are found not guilty of the offence you were initially charged with.
Once your conditions of release are set, they are very difficult to change. Unless the Crown consents to vary the conditions; the only way to change bail conditions is to have a bail review in the Court of Queen’s Bench. This process is time consuming and expensive, so it is important that you have experienced bail hearing lawyers representing you at your initial Bail Hearing.
Frequently Asked Questions about Bail Hearings
I have a warrant for my arrest, what do I do now?
If you have a warrant for your arrest, you will need to turn yourself in to the nearest police station. You may be released by the police or held for a bail hearing. You may want to make arrangements for legal representation in advance of turning yourself in. We would be happy to assist you and provide further assistance and direction depending on your circumstances.
Can I conduct my own bail hearing?
It is never recommended that you run your own bail hearing. The bail hearing lawyers at Davidson Gregory understand it may be tempting to run your own bail hearing in hopes of speaking to your release sooner; however there are significant risks of running your own bail hearing. Most importantly, you may be unaware that the information you are sharing with the Court is harmful to your case and it may be used against you in the future. It is important you get in touch with a lawyer from our team as soon as possible to assist you.
What type of conditions will I have if I am released?
The conditions that are imposed depend on your personal circumstances as well as the circumstances of your offence. Please contact a bail hearing lawyer at Davidson Gregory who can further provide advice based on your circumstances.
Do I need to have cash for my bail?
The amount of cash needed for bail, if any, is dependent on your personal factors as well as the circumstances surrounding the offence(s) you are charged with. In most cases, an actual cash deposit is not required; however for more serious offences or individuals with lengthy criminal records, a cash deposit may be necessary.