BAIL or JAIL?
What to expect
If you are not released after your arrest, you are entitled to a bail hearing within 24 hours of your arrest and detention.
You are constitutionally guaranteed reasonable bail. This does not mean that every person will be released. Most are not.
A Justice of the Peace decides whether or not you will be released or held in jail until your trial.
Recently, on a Christmas day, a London Ontario JP denied bail to 25 out of 28 cases brought before her. That is just wrong.
At the bail hearing the crown must show why you should be detained in custody. Usually the crown simply has to claim they are opposed to bail for the courts to deny you bail.
More and more often, the accused person must show why s/he should be released.
The factors to be considered at a bail hearing are:
Whether the accused is likely to flee or attend court
Will the accused comply with conditions imposed by the court
Whether the accused person is likely to re-offend
A surety is a person who will act as a supervisor and ensure that the accused person attends court, does not breach the conditions of release and does not re-offend.
A surety cannot have a criminal record, must be over 18 years old, be able to supervise the accused on a day to day basis, understand the conditions the court might impose on you, and arrive at court on time.
Jail conditions can be brutal. Jails are dangerous.
Jails are a danger to your health.
Denial of bail is devastating, resulting in your being held in jail for months, or even years, awaiting trial.
Because pretrial detention can often exceed the sentence imposed if you are found guilty at trial, many innocent people plead guilty just to get out of jail with "time served." That is not justice. It is expediency at its worst.
"Two for One" credit is supposed to compensate for dead time in jail pending trial. Harper changed that, but courts do grant credit for time spent awaiting trial, but the amount of credit varies from judge to judge and court to court.
Upon release, you may discover that complying with all the terms of release is impossible. A curfew, for example, for a shift worker may cost him or her their job.
You can seek to vary your bail conditions.
Changing your bail conditions can be very slow and very expensive.
Once the conditions of the bail are imposed by a Justice of the Peace the crown must consent to the bail conditions being varied, as must the surety. If the crown will not consent to the variation of bail conditions, then the only alternative is to bring an application for bail variation in the Superior Court.
If you breach a condition of bail and the surety knows, but does not inform the police, or if the surety fails to supervise the accused in terms of court attendances and maintaining the bail conditions, the crown may make application to the court to obtain the money posted for bail.
Funds do not automatically default to the crown. The crown must show that the surety knew of a breach of the bail terms and did not report it, or did not properly supervise