The Surety

If a friend or family member is being held for bail, it is likely that the lawyer will do what he or she can to try and get someone to come to court to sign for the bail or be a “surety”. The surety is a person who promises to the court that they will supervise the person charged to make sure that they come to court and obey any conditions that the court sets.

Conditions of Bail

The Criminal Code covers some of the possible conditions. The person charged might be ordered to:

  • report to a police officer or another designated person,
  • stay within a certain area,
  • notify the police or a person designated if there has been a change to the charged person’s residence or employment,
  • not to have any contact or communication with any victim, or witness or other person listed in the court order,
  • deposit his passport with a party specified,
  • not to have any firearm or other weapons.

Exceptions may be requested. For example, there may be an exception permitted to a non-communication order to allow a third person to be a go-between to facilitate access to children.

Signing For Bail

Signing for bail usually entails either signing a promise of money or actually depositing money into the court. Depositing money into court is most often required when the person charged is “not ordinarily resident” within a 200- kilometre limit. Then, if the accused breaks a condition of the court or does not come to court as required, the court may keep the money that is deposited. When a no-deposit bail is requested, the surety or the accused – when the accused signs his own bail – must have assets that are worth money. In other words, if the accused breaks the rules of the court or breaches his bail, the court might go the surety or the accused to capture the money that was promised. This is a process called estreatment.

Some types of assets are: equity in a house, a vehicle, investments or bank accounts. Depending on the circumstances, the court may allow a person to sign for bail even if he/she does not have these things but has a good job that pays them sufficiently to “be good for” the money. Courts usually understand that the money is not always the most important thing; it is a symbol of the importance of the duties that a surety has in front of them and also an incentive for the surety to properly supervise since there is a risk they could lose the money.

Bail Hearing

Once a plan is organized, a hearing occurs usually with a Justice of the Peace deciding on if and how an accused might be released. In court, the charges are read or listed and the prosecutor reads out some of the details of what the police say occurred. They might read from a civilian statement. Then, the court usually hears from the surety or maybe even the accused.

The bail courts run in Durham Region every day of the year, including Christmas and New Year’s Day. On weekends and holidays, Oshawa court also takes care of bail matters from surrounding jurisdictions including Peterborough, Cobourg and Lindsay. There are holidays courts in other major jurisdictions as well.

If the accused is released and conditions set out for him/her to obey, a new court date is set and the case proceeds from there. Whatever conditions are set remain on the accused until the whole case has been dealt with or unless a condition gets changed by the Justice of the Peace or Judge.