Tyson Dahlem Criminal Defence

What is "bail"?

For virtually all people who have been arrested and charged with a criminal offence, the first important part of the criminal process is a bail hearing.  Bail hearings occur in front of a justice of the peace or a provincial court judge. Bail hearings may take place in open court, or over the phone with a justice of the peace.  The bail hearing determines whether or not the you will be released pending trial. The bail hearing also determines what conditions you will be subject to if you are released.  Not every accused person gets a bail hearing - in many circumstances, the police will simply release the accused person on a "Promise to Appear" or a "Recognizance".  These are basically promises by you that you will attend in court on the designated date.

Why do I need a lawyer for a bail hearing?

Each person is entitled to one, and only one, bail hearing.  If you are denied bail, this will have an enormous effect on your life, because it means that you will stay in jail until the trial.  It is possible to get released from custody after being detained, but it is usually very difficult.  A good criminal lawyer will help you through the bewildering maze of the bail process.  It is always better to talk to a lawyer and get counsel BEFORE the bail hearing.  A good criminal lawyer will help you negotiate with the Crown Prosecutor to obtain your release and will help ensure that your matter goes in front of the right judge.

The most important thing that a good criminal lawyer will do is help you come up with a bail plan.  A bail plan covers where you will live, how you will not commit further offences, and how the court will be assured that you will attend at court when you are required to.

What is the bail process?

After you have been arrested, the police have 24 hours before they have to put you in front of a justice of the peace or a judge of the provincial court.  In Alberta, if a person is arrested on the weekend or in a location where the court does not sit every day, the bail hearing will take place over the phone with a justice of the peace.  The Crown has the ability to ask for up to 3 days of adjournment of the bail hearing to gather more information.  If the Crown is seeking your detention,  at the bail hearing, the prosecutor will present information to the court to "show cause" why the you should be held in custody pending trial.

I was denied bail. Is there anything that I can do?

Yes.  The Criminal Code requires that there be a detention review every 90 days for all persons held in custody.  In most cases, you will continue to be held in custody  unless there has been a significant change of circumstances.  It is also possible to conduct a bail review at the Court of Queen's Bench to have the detention or the release conditions changed.  

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