Bail hearings

A bail hearing is when a judge decides whether you should either be kept in jail or allowed to go back to the community while your case is in criminal court.

After a bail hearing, you may get bail, which is a court order that lets you stay in the community while your case is in the court system. Usually, there will be conditions attached to your bail—and these are rules that must be followed exactly or you might be sent back to jail to wait for your next court date.

Preparing for your bail plan

Here is a checklist of things you should address when it comes to the Crown’s concerns about whether you should be allowed out on bail (this is also known as a bail plan):

  • where you will be living while out on bail
  • who will supervise you (for example, it could be a surety or, if you do not have anyone who can be your surety, a Bail Supervision Program, which your lawyer or the Crown Attorney can refer you to)
  • what release conditions would be reasonable and necessary (for example, what would be a reasonable curfew, whether you have work or school you have to consider)
  • information about your job or any courses you’re taking
  • how you will address any drug or alcohol issues that were involved in the offence you’ve been charged with
  • how you plan on keeping track of your court dates and getting to court

Tell your lawyer:

  • how to reach friends or family
  • if you identify as First Nation, Métis or Inuit
  • if you have any injuries, illnesses, mental health or addiction issues

What happens at a bail hearing

Step 1

Under the Criminal Code¸ you have the right to a bail hearing within 24 hours of being arrested if a judge is available, or as soon as possible if one isn’t.

You may be taken from the police station or the jail to the courthouse where you will be held in a cell or you may be linked to the court by a video screen.

You will have a chance to speak with either your lawyer or a free lawyer for that day, who is called duty counsel.

Step 2

The Crown reads out allegations—the crimes the police and the Crown say you have done—against you.

In some cases, the Crown will call a witness—usually the investigating officer. It is the Crown’s job to show why you shouldn’t be allowed out on bail.

It is important for you to focus on your bail plan, which shows the court where you will live and how you will be supervised if you’re out in the community. Do not talk about the charges.

Step 3

Your lawyer can either call you or a potential surety (or both) to the stand to convince the court that, if you’re released on bail, you will obey your bail conditions and come to your court dates.

The Crown will be able to ask questions if you or a surety speak.

Step 4

A judge will then decide to either release you on bail or keep you in jail to wait for your trial.

The court will consider the seriousness of the charges, your record and your plan.

If you are released there will usually be conditions to do or not do certain things. It is very important that you follow the conditions exactly. If you do not, you could be put back in jail.

If you are not released you cannot have another bail hearing— your lawyer or duty counsel can explain options.

More information