Bail and release from custody
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Why get a lawyer?
Should I get a lawyer when I'm arrested?
Your lawyer may be able to negotiate the terms
of release from the police station or those to be recommended
by police to the Crown Attorney at a bail hearing. This could
be the key to obtaining a release order rather than a detention
Do I need a lawyer for my bail hearing?
While a state-funded lawyer (duty counsel) may
be available to assist you with a bail hearing at no cost, it
may be helpful to hire a lawyer for the following reasons:
Duty counsel invariably has other cases to handle and cannot
give yours all the attention it may need.
A privately retained lawyer can take the time to carefully
interview you and potential sureties, and line up treatment,
if required, for psychiatric or substance abuse problems. Demonstrating
that treatment is in the works will help allay possible concern
that you will reoffend.
A lawyer can help arrange letters from your school or employer
and help arrange post-release accommodation. The court may fear
that without proper accommodation there is increased risk you
A lawyer can take steps to have police officers or other witnesses
attend the bail hearing to testify about weaknesses in the Crown's
case; the weaker the Crown's case, the harder to justify your
A lawyer can help prevent the imposition of unreasonable or
onerous bail conditions. For example, the Crown may seek bail
in an amount beyond the financial reach of your proposed sureties.
Or it may seek a curfew or demand that you report frequently
to a faraway police station when such terms are unjustified.
It is important to get it right the first time.
If your bail hearing is unsuccessful and you
are ordered detained, you may apply to a higher court for a review
of the detention order. But it may be a few weeks before a "bail
review" can be launched and there is no guarantee that a higher
court will order your release. And a bail review can be costly.
Securing the release of an accused can be critical to the successful
defence of a charge. Often, persons who are ordered detained plead
guilty because they are desperate to get out of jail.
It is much
easier for an accused and his lawyer to prepare for trial if the
accused is out of custody. Custody encumbers communication between
the accused and his lawyer, who is restricted to jail visits at
certain hours. Telephone access is not always available. In addition,
jail visits may entail increased legal fees.
Further, an accused
who is out of custody can participate in counselling and treatment
that may help achieve a lighter sentence in the event he is found
guilty or even assist in getting the Crown to drop the charges.
Disclaimer: The material on this site is not intended as legal advice. It merely conveys general information on legal issues commonly encountered by persons facing criminal charges in Canada. If you are charged with an offence, you should contact a criminal lawyer.