Toronto Bail Hearings & Release Lawyers
This article is primarily directly to family and friends of a loved one or friend who has just been arrested and charged with a criminal offence, awaiting a bail hearing in Toronto. Whether falsely accused or not, you will want to help him or her to navigate the labyrinth of the criminal justice system. Part 1 of this odyssey begins with the bail stage. The important question to be determined is: After arrest, will the accused be released on bail, or will he remain in jail until trial?
Release from jail on bail is crucial to the conduct and direction of an accused person’s defence because release on bail relieves pressure on an accused to plead guilty at an early opportunity solely to avoid serving more time in jail awaiting trial than if she had pleaded guilty early on. Given the Conservative government’s passing of a law that only provides for 1-to-1 credit for time in jail before trial as credit toward the ultimate sentence imposed, it is of utmost importance that release on bail is secured for that important person in your life. As experienced criminal lawyers, we know how important it is, at this early stage, to have our clients and their sureties focus on only one matter: obtaining bail, or release, for the accused.
If someone you care about is arrested, and charged with a criminal offence, most of the time the police will not release them on bail from the police station. Many times, especially if charged with domestic assault, or any serious criminal offence, he or she will remain in jail overnight, awaiting a bail hearing at court the next morning. If we are retained at this early stage, we can talk to the arresting officer and advocate for release, where appropriate, from the station. However, if the police are seeking a form of supervision for the accused person, then we will advise the officer of the reasons why they should recommend your release to the crown attorney. A recommendation of release on bail by a police officer holds great sway with the crown attorney who will be conducting the bail hearing at court, often the very next day.
It is critically important that the accused obtain legal counsel at their first available opportunity. One of the first things counsel will do is to canvas family and friends to determine who can act as surety to offer supervision to the accused upon release from jail on bail. When speaking to us, we will discuss with you as the intended surety, a proposed plan of supervision that is likely to convince the crown attorney or the judge that release from jail should be ordered.
When discussing a plan of supervision, we will discuss where the accused will be living, where he will be working, who will offer supervision to ensure he obeys the bail conditions, and, finally, the amount of bail that needs to be signed for to ensure the accused obeys his or her conditions and attends court. If you are offering to sign bail for an individual, you are called a “surety”. The surety usually is required to have a job or assets (money in the bank and/or a home), no criminal record, and the ability to supervise the accused. In other words, as the surety, you must be able to say that your loved one will listen to you when you tell her to obey the bail conditions. Why would the accused listen to his or her surety? There are a number of reasons, the most important being that you are putting up some of your hard-earned money, and that the accused would not want to put that money at risk.
By the way, as a surety, rarely will you have to put up bail in the form of cash: you simply have to prove your financial worth, and pledge that if the accused disobeys his bail conditions, or doesn’t appear in court when required, you could be liable for the money you pledge.
Now, once you have worked with us to create a plan of supervision for this accused person, we will attend court, and we will present the plan to the crown attorney. If he or she accepts the plan, then we will jointly propose a bail amount and conditions to the judge, who will almost always accept it, given that we are very experienced criminal lawyers who are well respected by the judges, and our submissions to the court are credible and persuasive. This is the product of our over 65 years of combined experience as criminal defence lawyers. Whether our clients are guilty or have been falsely accused, we fight for every one of them to the (not so) bitter end. We have acted for clients in thousands of bail hearings over our combined 65 years of working in the criminal courts of Canada, and we know how to propose a credible plan of release for our clients that will persuade the crown attorney or judge to release our clients on some form of reasonable bail.
If the crown attorney does not agree to our plan of supervision, then we will present it to the judge at the bail hearing, which will also delve into the allegations against the accused. At this very early stage of the proceedings there is a unique opportunity to possibly present a different set of facts surrounding the allegations. This set of facts, which many times is elucidated to the court by one of the sureties, may leave the judge with a doubt as to whether the accused is even guilty of the charges before the court. We do not have to show that the accused was wrongly or falsely accused, we just have to plant the seeds of doubt in the judge’s mind. So, if we can poke one single hole in the prosecution’s case, we can open a large door in which our client can walk out of into freedom. Once again, our experience and knowledge of the law will work to your advantage.
Even if the prosecution’s case at this stage is very strong, and we can’t show that our client has been falsely accused, we can still rely on the presumption of innocence, and obtain the release of the person you care about. This can be accomplished with a plausible plan of supervision tending to show that the accused will, if released, obey the conditions of his or her release, not get into any trouble of a criminal nature and show up to court on each and every required appearance.
When bail is ordered by the judge, conditions will usually be set. One of these conditions may be that the accused have no contact or communication, directly or indirectly, with the alleged victim(s).
When a condition or term of release is sought at a bail hearing involving a domestic assault or related charge(s), we can often ensure that the term will be modified to at least allow the accused access to his or her children, and minimum interference with his or her employment.
You should know that it can take up to a year, or more, for a matter to get to the trial stage, even at the Ontario Court of Justice level. Again, it is vitally important that the accused be released on bail, and that the bail conditions are reasonable.
To make sure we can be available to provide the immediate help you may need, we have a 24-hour phone line at our Toronto office.
We know the importance of obtaining our client’s release at the bail hearing stage. Once we obtain an accused person`s release on bail, we then sit down and discuss the weaknesses of the case against him or her. We are always thinking ahead about how we can win the case, but only after we secure your loved one’s release on bail.
Bail Variations and Bail Review Hearings
This portion is addressed to the client:
If you wish to change or modify the terms of your bail after your release and while awaiting trial, this is often due to a change in your circumstances since the time of your bail hearing. Besides restricting or limiting your contact with the alleged victim (often referred to as the “complainant”), you may find one or more of the terms of your release interferes with your ability to keep your job or to look for work in your chosen field or perhaps to attend classes in a particular area and time at a certain academic institution. There are many other aspects of a bail order that you may wish to vary or change such as the lifting or modifying of restrictive curfew limitations.
We can try to persuade the crown attorney to change your bail conditions. If the crown attorney will not consent to any changes in your bail conditions, then we will apply to the Superior Court of Justice, in what amounts to an appeal of the original court order.
The appeal procedure before the Superior Court is called a “bail variation,” or a “bail review. “
For a free analysis of the Bail conditions regarding your Toronto bail hearing with a view to discussing with you the obtaining of a bail variation, please call one of our lawyers, and then fax us a copy of the bail order to 416-781-2020.