The start of the whole criminal procedure: promise to appear and bail hearings. Depending on the nature of your charge, or whether or not the police have enough evidence or have not gathered enough once you’ve been arrested, you will be released with a promise to appear. The promise to appear has two important dates: the day that you need to appear for your fingerprints and photographs and the second date is for your first appearance at the Ontario Court of Justice. Make sure that you provide your lawyer with a copy of the promise to appear notice.

If you’re not being released on the promise to appear, you are being held for a show cause hearing or a bail hearing. This means that the police officers will have to take you to court where you going to have your bail hearing. Depending on the nature of the charges, the gravity of your charges, the crown will want that you have a Surety. Your Surety can be a residential Surety, or you can reside at an address approved by a Surety.

The function of a surety is like a police officer outside of jail. There are going to be conditions that the crown will ask for that you must abide to. The Surety, which is your supervisor, will have to make sure that you abide by all of these conditions. The Surety can be a friend, family member or a business partner. When you are released to a Surety, a Surety can at any point pull away and dismiss themselves from being your Surety if you do not abide by the rules. As well, the Surety must call the police if you are breaching any of the conditions.

What is important to understand, is that your Surety will be liable to the court because when they sign off on your bail hearing or on your release they will have to vouch money that they could potentially lose if they don’t call the police and you have breached the conditions.

It is important that you understand you shouldn’t be taking your bail hearing very lightly. There will be conditions that will be imposed upon you by the courts, and you must follow them. However you also have to understand that sometimes the crown may want to impose conditions that will interfere with your daily life, so the conversation that you have with your lawyer prior to your release or prior to you signing your bail paper is quite important because you have to be open about your schedule and about your commitment. For example, if the crown is seeking a curfew, your lawyer can somehow try to negotiate a time that will be beneficial for you while at the same time making sure the crown will agree to the release or to that specific time for the curfew.

This condition(s) can be varied at a later date once your court proceedings start however you have to understand that this is a negotiation between the Crown and your lawyer. For example, in a domestic situation the Crown would impose that the complainant and the accused not have any contact with each other, but maybe after some sessions of therapy the Crown will be agreeable to contact with a revocable consent or with a written consent.

The Crown is not necessarily set on imposing solely these conditions, they can be varied but you also have to make sure that prior to your release you not restricted to the point you feel that your freedom is taken away.

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