Bail Hearings & Reviews
Your relative or friend has been arrested and needs a lawyer for a bail hearing?
Bail is often a first stage in a criminal justice process. It is very important for reasons some of which are obvious, like desire of accused’s family to see him out of jail. There are less obvious but no less important reasons to get out on bail. If the accused is detained, his negotiating position is substantially weakened and he may be tempted to admit guilt for something he did not do just to get out of jail. If the crime alleged is of a more serious nature and the accused held in custody up until his trial, the trial preparation will likely be negatively affected as time to see and consult a lawyer will be limited. It is therefore very important to run a bail hearing properly and get reasonable bail with fair conditions that would allow the accused to continue his life and prepare to defend against his or her charges.
How many times can one run a bail hearing?
The answer is: one can adjourn a bail hearing many times, but if it started and finished unsuccessfully, that was your one and only shot that was allowed at a certain level of court (usually, the Ontario Court of Justice). The next step is an appeal (also called bail review) in what is often called High Court (i.e. Superior Court of Justice, located in Toronto, Newmarket or Brampton). Such an appeal can easily take a couple of weeks, as transcript of the bail hearing has to be prepared, and courts are hearing these appeals only on particular days of the week. So it is way better to get it right the first time.
What are the duties of the surety?
First and foremost, surety is not something you can learn about on TV. American bail system is very different from a Canadian one. A surety is responsible for the accused while the latter is out on bail. It has been said that the surety is the accused’s “jailer” in the community. This responsibility however is limited by the amount of the bail ordered by the judge (unless surety actively participates in the breach, which could attract criminal charges). If the accused breaches bail and the Crown decides to go after the bail money (or the judge “marks bail for estreat”), then there will be a hearing set in Superior Court and the surety and the accused will be given a chance to argue that they should not lose the money. It is possible to run this hearing without a lawyer, but if the amount of bail is at least somewhat substantial, it is highly recommended to retain one.