Any encounter with law enforcement has the potential to deprive you of your liberty; this is particularly so if your encounter doesn’t end with a mere citation or warning but you instead find yourself arrested for impaired driving and wondering whether you need to hire a criminal lawyer to advocate for your interests. For the majority of first-time offenders you are likely to expect a release from detention under one of the following conditions: promise to appear, recognizance, or with condition (e.g.: you must stay in a particular city, you may have to surrender your passport, or report periodically to authorities). In a few circumstances you may not be released under one of the preceding conditions and the courts hold what is called a bail hearing to determine whether you may be released or held in detention until the case has been completed.
The stakes are high at a bail hearing because you run the risk of detention until your charge is resolved. This hearing must be held within 24 hours of your arrest, but because of what is at stake thorough preparation is necessary and may result in you choosing an adjournment so that you or your criminal lawyer if you hire one, can fully prepare the best arguments for the court (Learn more here). An adjournment can’t exceed three days, so even though you will still remain in custody you could have a better chance of a positive outcome at the hearing.
Why You May be Denied Release
There are multiple reasons the court will decline release and require the accused to remain in custody for the duration and the court will exercise this option if it is determined that detention is necessary to ensure the accused appearance in court, if detention is necessary to protect the public, or to maintain confidence in the judicial system.
Generally the Crown has the burden of showing cause to hold an accused for the duration of the proceedings, but in rare circumstances this burden is shifted and the accused must show reason for release instead. This may happen when the accused has been re-arrested while on release from another pending charge, if the accused doesn’t ordinarily reside in Canada, if the charge is for failure to comply with prior court order, or for certain drug trafficking and possession charges.
Should you find yourself facing a bail hearing it’s important to keep in mind that you have a right to reasonable bail in an amount within the financial capability of either you or your surety. Learn more in how to prepare for a bail hearing here. In any instance, a good criminal lawyer can be the difference between negotiating release and remaining in detention until your case is fully resolved.