Figuratively speaking, you made a mistake and it has landed you in custody. In Canada, you are usually brought before a Justice of the Peace within 24 hours for a bail hearing. There are two basic outcomes after your bail hearing. Factors such as having a surety who ensures you appear for a next court date, your offence being minor, or you being a first-time offender may make you eligible for bail and you are released.
If you have no surety, you were arrested for serious offence, you are transient, or have a lengthy criminal record you may be remanded into court until at least your next court appearance. With so many factors and so much at stake, you definitely want to maximize your chances of being released and one way to do this is hiring a lawyer experienced in criminal law. There are many advantages to hiring a criminal lawyer to assist you at a bail hearing and it could just be the difference between going home and facing more time behind bars.
1. Find an experienced lawyer
If you are a first-time offender, chances are you do not know much about the criminal court process at all and this can be confusing, frightening, and frustrating especially if you are held in custody. At your bail hearing the Crown Attorney or Assistant Crown Attorney will provide a synopsis of the charges filed against you and make arguments regarding why you should not be granted bail.
Since the outcome can hinge on arguments made, you do not want to take the chance and make arguments on you own behalf that probably will not be effective. In addition to consider arguments made, the Justice of the Peace takes other factors into account such as whether you are transient or a flight risk, if your release would pose a public safety risk, the seriousness of the charges, and whether you have a past criminal record.
A criminal lawyer is very experienced in bail hearings and knows how to properly advocate for your release. They can address each factor considered by the Justice of the Peace and put together a strong case as to why you should not have to remain in custody.
2. Negotiates conditions
If the Justice of the Peace considers your release from custody suitable, he or she will specify conditions that you must agree to and abide by until they are lifted when you are sentenced or all charges are dropped. These conditions could include residing with a specified surety, house arrest or curfew, remaining away from any victims or property involved in the offence, and abstinence from alcohol or possessing weapons.
While most people are more than happy to accept such conditions because it means they will be released, you need to make sure that the conditions are realistic for you to follow because if you violate them, you will find yourself returned to custody with an additional charge of failing to comply with recognizance, which means a bail agreement. Hiring a lawyer can negotiate bail conditions that work for you.
For instance, abiding by a house arrest when you are employed would mean you violating the condition or having to quit. The lawyer can bring issues such as these to the Justice of the Peace’s attention, allowing you to be released and be able to still comply with restrictions passed down by the Court.
3. Assistance with surety
While it is possible to be released from custody on one’s own recognizance, a Justice of the Peace is more inclined to agree to bail when a surety is present who can guarantee that the accused appears for future court dates and complies with bail conditions.
An experienced criminal attorney can make contact with any possible sureties on your behalf, look into their background, and determine whether he or she would be suitable. Once suitability is established, the attorney can then talk with the proposed surety and confirm that they understand their rights and responsibilities.