When an accused person is released on bail, it is possible that there may be conditions that they will have to comply with while they are released. Conditions can vary depending on the circumstances, but may include a curfew; a no-contact order; and/or a prohibition from consuming drugs or alcohol. It is generally considered a criminal offence to violate or fail to comply with any of the conditions. Understanding the intricacies of how bail works in Canada is crucial when examining the implications of failing to comply with bail conditions in Canada.
Being found guilty of violating bail conditions will result in a criminal record and could potentially lead to jail time, even for a first offence. Additionally, having a criminal record that includes a failure to comply with bail can make it much more difficult to receive another release on bail in the future.
Given the serious nature of the possible consequences for being found guilty of violating a bail condition, it is critical that you speak with an experienced bail hearing lawyer. They will be able to work with you to determine the best defence for your situation.
What Happens If I Fail to Comply With Bail Conditions?
If you breach your bail conditions, you can be arrested and criminally charged with failing to comply with your bail. The police are able to issue a warrant for your arrest if:
- They have reasonable grounds to believe you did not follow your bail conditions, or
- Your surety has decided they no longer want to act as surety for you.
Upon being arrested, you will be held in custody for another bail hearing. At this new hearing, you will have to show the court why you should be released while your case is in criminal court.
It is possible that the Crown will make what is called a Section 524 application to the court. This is also known as a bail revocation application. If the application is approved, your original bail will be cancelled and a new bail hearing will occur. This new bail hearing will be all of your outstanding charges; the ones you faced originally and the new charges you’re facing.
What Must the Prosecution Prove for a Conviction for a Bail Violation?
In order to secure a successful conviction for failing to comply with bail conditions, a Crown prosecutor will have three elements they have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- An accused was bound to follow the condition set out in the bail order
- An accused breached the condition set out in the order, and
- An accused intended to violate the bail condition
Intention can be one of the most difficult elements for the Crown to have to prove because they must demonstrate that an accused meant to violate a bail condition beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that typically, an accidental breach of the conditions will not be enough to secure a guilty verdict
What if I Had a Good Reason to Breach the Conditions of My Bail?
In some limited circumstances, it may be impossible for an accused person to comply with a condition of bail. A common example of this may be if an accused has a curfew of 10 pm but then has a medical emergency and has to go to the emergency room at 11 pm.
In an instance such as this, the court may accept that even though a bail condition was violated, the accused had a reasonable excuse for leaving and therefore would be found not guilty. In these situations, the burden is on the accused to convince the judge on a balance of probabilities of the validity of their reasonable excuse.
Should I Plead Guilty to a Bail Violation if I Don’t Have a Valid Excuse?
Even if you don’t have a valid excuse you should not plead guilty right away to violating a bail condition. In a situation where someone has been accused of violating a bail condition, a Crown prosecutor still has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are guilty of the offence.
There are defences to violating bail conditions. You should not plead guilty unless:
- There is a factual basis for pleading guilty
- The Crown prosecutor can prove their case, or
- You receive some form of consideration for pleading guilty
Can I Be Found Guilty If My Constitutional Rights Were Violated?
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees several rights that prevent the police from searching you in an unreasonable way, using excessive force against you, or detaining or arresting you without a good reason. They must also assist you in contacting a lawyer if you want one and explain why you’re detained or arrested.
In some situations, the fact that an accused person had one of their rights illegally violated may be a possible defence to a charge. An experienced defence lawyer will be able to assist in determining if any of your rights have been violated.
What Are Valid Defences for a Bail Violation Charge?
The following defences may be available to you for a bail violation charge:
- One of your Charter rights was violated
- You made an honest mistake and forgot to follow your conditions
- It was impossible to comply with your bail conditions
If the Crown prosecutor cannot prove all the elements of the alleged breach beyond a reasonable doubt, you cannot be found guilty of violating a bail condition.
How Can a Conviction for Failing to Comply With Bail Conditions Affect Me in the Future?
A successful conviction for failing to comply with bail conditions will immediately result in a criminal record. It can also result in your bail being revoked or even getting jail time.
In addition, having a conviction for failing to comply may make it more difficult for an individual to secure bail if they’re charged with another criminal offence in the future. A Crown prosecutor is going to be less likely to consent to the release of an individual who has been convicted for failing to comply with their bail conditions in the past.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Lawyer Today
It is very important that if you have been accused of failing to comply with one of your bail conditions you speak with a criminal defence lawyer. A qualified lawyer will be able to help you in identifying all possible avenues of defence. In some cases, they will even be able to work with the Crown prosecutor to have your charges reduced or even dropped.
The team at Pyzer Criminal Lawyers are experienced in defending against failure to comply with charges. To speak with a member of our legal team give us a call at 647-799-0727 or request a free case evaluation on our website, torontodefencelawyers.com.