Bail

What Is Bail?

Bail, or Judicial Interim Release, is the release of individuals charged with a crime into the community prior to a trial on the charges. All individuals charged with an offence have the right to reasonable bail, a right guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In practice, if you have been charged with a less serious offence, you may be released by police with a promise to appear or an undertaking without the need for bail. If you have been charged with a more serious offence, or if the police do not want to release you, then you are entitled to a bail hearing within 24 hours of being charged.

What Happens At A Bail Hearing?

In Alberta, a first bail hearing takes place in front of a Justice of the Peace, or a Provincial Court. There are important differences depending upon the jurisdiction you have been charged in, which is why it is important to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer about your matter.

At the bail hearing, the Crown will present evidence indicating why you should not be released. This evidence can include a summary of the allegations, the criminal record of the accused, and in some cases, testimony by witnesses or other parties. A criminal defence lawyer can be crucial in defending you against accusations, making representations on your behalf, and in getting you timely and reasonable bail.

A bail hearing is not a trial of the charges, and the presiding justice will not determine whether the allegations are true or not. Instead, a bail hearing is held to determine if you can and should be released into the community, and if so, whether bail money is required or whether conditions are necessary to bind the accused person.

What Are The Conditions Of Bail?

The bail conditions imposed can be extremely restrictive in certain cases, and it is important to have experienced and knowledgeable counsel present at a bail hearing to defend your liberty and reduce the restrictions imposed while you are out on bail. Bail conditions can include:

  • Not to contact certain people.
  • Not to attend certain places.
  • To attend counselling or treatment.

Other conditions may restrict your ability to possess a cellphone, use the internet, or even leave your home.

Bail Money

If you have been released on bail only upon the posting of bail money, then you will not be released until this money is paid. Bail money is returned to the person who posted it when the criminal charges are resolved if the bail was not breached. If your bail is denied, you may be kept in custody until the criminal charges are resolved.

Looking For A Bail Hearing Lawyer In Edmonton?

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, bail is a crucial and urgent first step in the criminal justice process. It is important that your interests are represented by an experienced criminal lawyer from Bottos Law Group at your bail hearing. Our criminal lawyers speak to bail 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and collectively have spoken to the release of thousands of individuals charged with serious criminal offences in Edmonton and the surrounding area.

If you are in custody, have been charged with an offence, or are looking for a lawyer to speak to bail, please call us immediately at 780-421-7001.

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How can I bail someone out of jail?
  • First, there is a bail hearing — every person in Alberta that is arrested for a crime has a right to bail in 24 hours. A person who is arrested may be released by the police, or they may have a bail hearing.  At their bail hearing, there is duty counsel, also known as a legal aid lawyer to help them with their bail hearing (if their own lawyer is not present). If you want your own lawyer and not duty counsel, we recommend contacting our firm right away after you’ve been arrested. It’s extremely difficult for a member of the public to appear on their own during a bail hearing (you can contact your local courthouse for more information regarding that).

    The second part is how to pay for your bail — answered in our FAQ below.

How do I pay for bail?
  • If a cash bail is required, it can be paid at the bail hearing office. In Edmonton, you can pay at either the bail hearing office (the Brownlee building kitty-corner from the courthouse), or at the remand center (it’s currently closed due to COVID-19), or if you have the ORCA number of the inmate in question, you can pay at any Canada Post Office.

    Note that the use of cash bail is declining in Canada, therefore cash is less often required, especially if a person is released on strict conditions.

Can I change my release conditions?
  • Yes, you can change your release conditions. However, changing your conditions usually involves having an experienced criminal lawyer who can talk to the prosecutor on your behalf about a change of release conditions by consent. A criminal lawyer can also help change your conditions when the Crown prosecutor does not consent.  This is done at a bail review hearing, where your lawyer goes in front of a judge to argue for a change to conditions. 

    We recommend reaching out to us if you need help changing your release conditions as they can be tough or complicated to change on your own. It takes in-depth negotiation and knowledge of the criminal law system that only experienced criminal lawyers hold.

How much will bail cost?
  • There is a lot of misconception around how much bail will cost — we blame this on popular US tv series based on cash bonds. Here in Alberta, if cash bail is required they tend to be between $500 to $2000. Larger cash bails are rare in Alberta. 

    Contact us if you have more questions on bail or if you need a lawyer to represent you.

What happens if I breach my release conditions?
  • The Criminal Code provisions regarding bail were substantially changed in December of 2019. Previously, once a person was arrested, they would be charged with a new criminal offence of breaching bail, and if they were not released by police, they would be brought in front of a judge for bail. Under this previous system, the person would always have new charges for breach of bail, which would require a new bail hearing for those new charges.

    Now, the process offers more flexibility in certain circumstances.  The Police or the Crown prosecutor may choose to proceed with a breach of bail through a new process that does not involve a criminal charge, but instead involves a hearing to determine whether bail conditions should be changed, or bail cancelled entirely. The new process means there will not always be a new set of charges for breaching bail.

    While this is now the law in Alberta, in general practice right now, a breach of bail conditions usually means new charges and the possibility of being held in custody. Changes in the law like this lead to uncertainty so we almost always recommend speaking to a lawyer if you or someone you know is being held by the police for any reason. Contact us today if you need help navigating a breach of conditions.

How do I set up a bail hearing?
  • Normally, you don’t set up the bail hearing. There is nothing to set up for the accused or their family. If a person upon arrest is released by a police officer, they will sign paperwork with a court date. If a person upon arrest is not released, they are taken to jail for a bail hearing done over the phone. If you’re calling on behalf of someone in custody, our lawyers can contact in-custody individuals, and will work with the court system to negotiate for their release, set up a bail hearing, and attend for a bail hearing electronically within the 24 hour period following arrest.

    Disclaimer: The more serious the charge, the more difficult it can be to get bail.  In addition, the process outlined above does not apply for certain extremely serious charges like murder charges. They have an entirely different process. Please contact us if you need help or advice about these types of charges.