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Bail and Release Documents

A bail hearing is a court hearing where a judge decides whether to release the accused person from custody before the case is dealt with in court.

At a bail hearing, the Crown prosecutor and the defence lawyer summarize the evidence against the accused. The judge will consider:

  • if the accused person has a criminal record or charges pending
  • the seriousness of the charge
  • if the crime involved any violence
  • any concerns about the safety or security of victims or witnesses.

Generally, the accused will be released unless the judge feels that custody is necessary to ensure that the accused person will attend court or that custody is necessary to protect the public.

Bail Order or Judicial Interim Release Document

If the judge decides to release the accused person, there may be conditions attached. A bail order, or judicial interim release document, is an order of the court that tells the offender what they may or may not do while charges are outstanding.

The bail order might include requiring the accused to:

  • report in to authorities
  • remain in the jurisdiction
  • not communicate in any way with any victim or witness
  • abide by other conditions considered necessary for the safety and security of victims or witnesses.

Surety Prior to Release

The judge may also require a 'surety' before authorizing the release of an accused person. A surety is a person who vouches for the accused while he or she is on bail awaiting trial or appeal. The surety can be ordered to deposit money or a pledge of a specified amount of money to be paid if the accused does not obey the bail conditions or fails to attend court. The surety is also responsible for making sure the accused obeys the terms of the bail and if the surety is not able to do this, they can 'render' the accused, which means they can apply for bail to be revoked. A surety’s responsibilities end if bail is revoked in this way.

Non-Communication Orders

If the accused is not released from custody, the judge may still make a non-communication order that directs the accused not to communicate, directly or indirectly, with victims, witnesses or any other person identified in the order. A non-communication order covers all types of communications, including letters or phone calls from or on behalf of the offender.

Did You Know?
Victims can get information about release conditions imposed on an accused person and may request a copy of the bail order from the police, the Court or a Victim Services Worker. If the accused is held for a bail hearing, Crown counsel will need to know if there are issues affecting the safety of a victim or witness in order to request protective terms on the bail. If you are a victim or witness in a case and are concerned for your safety, you should talk to a Victim Services Worker, the police or Crown.

If you are afraid of the accused person, it is important to tell the police about your fear, why you are afraid and what conditions of bail you feel would protect you. Crown counsel will review the report prepared by the police, including any information you have provided to the police about your fears. Crown counsel will then decide if the bail conditions set by the police are enough. Or, if the accused has been held in custody, Crown may decide to ask the justice of the peace or judge to keep the accused in custody or release them on bail conditions that will protect you and the public. At any time, you can give information to the police or to Crown counsel about any danger to you or to others.

What to do if the Accused Breaches their Bail Conditions

Bail conditions are often supervised by a bail supervisor in the probation office. If the accused person breaks the rules of their bail conditions, this is called a breach of bail, and is considered a criminal offence.

An accused that is arrested and charged with breaching bail conditions will be held in jail until a bail revocation hearing is held. Depending on the type of breach, a judge may release the person or increase the bail money. If, however, the breach is serious, bail will usually be revoked and the accused will not be allowed out of custody.


If there is a court order that tells the accused person that they are not allowed to contact you but he or she tries to contact you anyway, call the police immediately. Charges can be laid and the accused person may be arrested again.

Release Without Bail Hearing

In some cases, a person may be released by police and a bail hearing is not necessary. Release may be in one of the following ways:

  • A summons – the police may request an official notice from the court, directing the suspect to appear in court on a specified date
  • A written promise to appear – this document will be prepared by the police for the signature of the accused before release. By signing this form, which may or may not have conditions, the accused is promising to appear in court on a specified date
  • An appearance notice – this is a notice police will issue, usually at the time of the alleged offence, directing the accused to appear in court on a specified date.

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