How to Bail someone out of Jail?

In Canada, when an accused person is arrested and charged with a criminal offence, they may be released with or without a bail hearing. When an accused person is arrested and released without a bail hearing they are released on either a promise to appear or a police recognizance. A promise to appear is a legal document that the accused must sign prior to being released from custody. Signing the document means the accused promises to appear for court on the date listed on the document. A police undertaking is legal document that the accused must sign prior to being released from custody. The document requires that the accused appear before the court on the date listed in the document and abide by certain conditions while in the community.

In other situations, where more serious charges are laid or where the police feel the accused may be a threat, they will hold the accused for a bail hearing, also called a show cause hearing. The Crown will then determine whether they will consent to the accused’s release, or if they will show cause as to why the accused should be held in custody.

If someone you know has been arrested, you must first determine whether they are going to be held for bail or released on their own recognizance. If the accused is to be released on a police recognizance or a promise to appear a bail hearing will not be necessary and the accused can simply sign the papers given to them by police to be released. If, however, the accused is being held for a bail hearing, they will be taken to the local courthouse to be brought before the court, usually within 24 hours or as soon as possible.

If someone you know has been arrested and is being held for bail, you must first determine which courthouse they will be taken to. In most smaller jurisdictions there is only one courthouse that the accused could be taken to. In larger jurisdictions like Toronto where there are multiple courthouses, you may need to contact the arresting police department to inquire about where the accused is being taken.

Having a complete understanding of the Elements of the Criminal Offence, Your Rights and the Consequences associated with a Criminal Record is necessary before any legal decisions are made.

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Legal Information

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Bail someone out of Jail?
What is a Surety?
Who can be a Surety?
What if the Accused Breaches their Bail?
What if I don’t want to be a Surety anymore?

Additional Resources

Assaulting a Peace Officer
Children’s Aid Society
Sexual Assault Law in Canada
Consequences of a Criminal Record
Domestic Abuse
First Offenders
Immigration Consequences
Keeping Charges Private
Travel & US Waivers
Vulnerable Sector Screening
Elements of a Crime
Your Rights

How to Bail someone out of Jail?

Once you arrive to the courthouse you must determine if the accused will be released on their own recognizance, or if they will need a surety. Sureties are discussed in more detail below. Where no surety is required, the accused may bail themselves out of custody.

Depending on the severity of the allegations and the potential risk the accused poses to the community, the accused will be required to pose a cash deposit. This is one of the most stringent forms of release and will be used where no surety is available or where the Crown has concerns about releasing the accused.

What is a Surety?

A surety is a civilian who agrees to supervise an accused while they are in the community pending the outcome of their criminal matter. A surety must promise the court that they will watch the accused while the accused is in the community. A surety must agree to report the accused to law enforcement if the accused fails to abide by the conditions of their release. The surety is also responsible for ensuring the accused attends all of their court dates.

The surety will be required to pledge an amount of money to the court. Should the accused fail to appear for court when ordered or fail abide by all of their bail conditions, the surety may be forced to forfeit the money to the court.

Who can be a Surety?

To be eligible to be a surety you must meet the following conditions:

  • You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You cannot have a criminal record
  • If you are the alleged victim in the case, you cannot be the surety

In some cases, a surety will be required to speak in court on the record during a bail hearing. The Crown and/or judge or justice of the peace may question a potential surety about their ability to supervise the accused in the community. If the Court or the Crown feels as though the proposed surety will not sufficiently supervise the accused, they may reject the surety.

For example, an individual who has acted as a surety in the past where the accused breached conditions may not an acceptable surety. Similarly, a surety may be rejected if they have acted as surety for the same accused in the past and the accused has continued to get into trouble with the law.

What if the Accused Breaches their Bail?

If you are acting as a surety for an accused person and you believe they are about to breach their bail conditions or commit another crime, or you discover that they have breached their bail conditions or committed another crime, you must contact police immediately.

As a surety, it is your responsibility to supervise the accused in the community and ensure they abide by the conditions of their release. If the accused is arrested and convicted of breaching any of their conditions or failing to attend court, the Crown may ask the surety for the money they pledged to the court. If this happens, a hearing will be held where the surety will be given an opportunity to explain why they should not have to forfeit the money. If the Court disagrees with the reasoning, the Court will order that some or all of the money be paid.

What if I don’t want to be a Surety anymore?

Acting as a surety for someone is a big responsibility. If, at any point, a surety no longer wishes to act as surety they may inform the Court and have the surety pulled. The fastest way to have a surety pulled is to reach out directly to the Justice of the Peace office at the court location where the accused was granted bail. Include details about the accused including their legal name, date of birth, their charges and next court date and indicate that you no longer wish to act as surety. The court is required to pull the surety with no questions asked.

Once a surety has indicated that they no longer wish to take on that responsibility, the court will revoke the accused’s bail and an arrest warrant will be issued. The accused will be re-arrested and brought back into custody for another bail hearing. Unless something has changed with the accused’s circumstances since they were originally granted bail, another surety will be required before accused can be released. If no other surety exists, the accused may be held in custody pending the outcome of the case.

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