Bail Hearing | Judicial Interim Release | Show Cause

If anyone you care about- a friend or family member- was just detained by the police, contact Ouellette Hoare Claxton An Association of Independent Law Practices immediately and they can start helping. They have experience in Calgary bail courts know exactly how to prepare the best plan for a bail application. Andre Ouellette, Mike C. Gilchrist, Peter Hoare & Sadaf Raja work quickly for clients in custody who want to apply for bail and are accustomed to visiting clients at the Calgary Remand Center.

CALL: 1(587) 355-8889

Bail Hearing Definition- What is a Bail Hearing in Canada?

Bail is official permission from a Court- in written form- allowing a person who has been criminally charged to be out of custody (jail) while they await trial or another outcome in the criminal process.

In Canada, what we call “bail” is actually called judicial interim release by the courts. The bail /judicial interim release process is one of the most critical steps in the criminal process, as it will lay the groundwork for the remainder of your proceedings.

How Long do I have to Wait before a Bail Hearing?

Should the police believe it is prudent to hold you rather than release you after arrest, they have to bring you to court, to appear before a justice (judge or justice of the peace), within 24 hours or “as soon as possible” if a presiding official is not available (Criminal Code, ss. 497, 498 & 503(1)).

In Canada, various police forces have differing policies concerning when a person can be released directly upon being charged, and when a person must appear in front of a Judge or Justice of the Peace. In those instances the person charged is commonly held in custody for an extended period of time while waiting for the next Justice of the Peace or Provincial Court Judge. In Calgary accused persons are detained and taken downtown to what is now called the Court Services Section (aka: Arrest Processing Unit). The phone number for the Arrest Processing Unit is 403-428-3400. However, the police will not release any information unless the caller is a lawyer or if the individual detained is a minor.

How Much Does Bail Cost In Canada?

In the Canadian legal system, bail is free as long as the accused generally has no history of failing to appear in court in the Province. In some circumstances, however, the Court may require a “surety” or cash deposit. Provided that the charged individual follows the conditions of the bail order, the surety will not be asked to pay any of the bail money for which the surety signed; therefore a zero cost bail will result.

Nevertheless, should the accused breach one or more conditions of the bail, the Crown can seek to have the surety pay some or all the bail money. The surety will have the right to go to court to explain that he or she did everything they could be required to do in supervising the accused and so should not need to pay. A judge will take into account the circumstances and decide if the surety will have to pay.

How does a Bail Hearing Work in Canada?

The Crown presents the accusations to the judge. The majority of the time, the Crown in Calgary will proceed by reading out the allegations discovered in the police synopsis. In some circumstances, the Crown will present the allegations by calling a witness (or witnesses) to testify in court. This witness will usually be the senior law enforcement officer associated with the investigation.

Following the Crown’s allegations, the accused’s lawyer or duty counsel has an opportunity to present evidence. In the majority of cases, the accused’s lawyer or duty counsel does this through having the accused or a prospective surety (or both) testify. In some situations, there will be more than one potential surety called as a witness. The accused’s lawyer or duty counsel will try to convince the court that, if released on bail, the accused will obey their bail conditions.

When each side is finished giving their proof, they make arguments to the judge or justice of the peace. The judge or justice of the peace then determines to either discharge the accused on bail or have them remain in jail while they wait for their trial or some other outcome (such as a guilty plea, Alternative Measures or a withdrawal of charges).

What is Reverse Onus?

At a standard bail proceeding, the operating rule is that you will be released and the Crown must prove a need to detain you until your matter resolves. There is however, a long list of legal charges in which the responsibility is reversed, and the defence must provide evidence to prove that release is correct. This is known as “reverse onus”; reverse onus situations include:

  • certain offences claimed to have been committed while already on bail, or alleged crimes that would be violations of existing conditions;
  • where the accused is “not ordinarily resident in Canada”;
  • certain offences alleged to be committed for a criminal organization
  • alleged terrorism offences
  • offences involving firearms or prohibited weapons; and for many of the drug offences that tend to be considered more serious. (Criminal Code, s. 515(6))
Can Bail Conditions be Changed?

Yes. This is what is referred to as a “bail variation”. However, variations can only be accomplished if the Crown consents to the change, or if the defendant applies to a higher court for a review and that court orders the change. Andre Ouellette, Mike C. Gilchrist, Peter Hoare & Sadaf Raja have conducted thousands of bail hearings in front of Justices of the Peace, Provincial Court Judges, and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in Calgary, Edmonton, and all over Alberta. Call them today if you are seeking to have your bail conditions changed.

How Long do Bail Conditions Last For?

If you are released on bail, the bail conditions will remain in force beyond your first court date. The bail stipulations are typically in place until the case concludes, either through litigation or by some different result. This may take many months or longer.

How many times can I apply for bail?

Every arrested person has one chance to apply for judicial interim release (bail).  Because you have only one opportunity, Oulette Hoare Claxton think it is crucial that you can generate the strongest possible bail plan together.  It is vital to consider the pros and cons of any application for bail.  Occasionally, it may be more strategic to wait for a certain duration of time before applying for bail.  You need to speak to a lawyer from Ouellette Hoare Claxton An Association of Independent Law Practices who has experience in bail courts in Calgary to determine when the right time to apply for release is and what the best course of action is.

What Types of Bail are Available in Canada?

Generally there are two catagories of release available to the police and the Judge. The most prevalent types of release are as follows:

  • Appearance Notice/Promise to Appear
  • Recognizance

Appearance Notice/Promise to Appear

Release by way of Appearance Notice or Promise to Appear is commonly used with people with little or no criminal record, and for comparatively minor charges. Release of this kind is issued by law enforcement personnel, and does not need a Bail hearing. The conditions attached to this release are very minimal. The most important of the orders is that you attend court on the designated court date and attend court thereafter as specified. In addition, you will likely be directed to attend a police station for the purposes of fingerprinting. Be certain you don’t miss either date or a warrant will issued for your non-compliance.

The police may feel that your Release by way of Appearance Notice or Promise to Appear requires additional conditions, which may include:

  • Abstain from Drugs or Alcohol
  • No Contact with alleged victims or other witnesses
  • A Curfew
  • Certain geographical restrictions on travel
  • Regular reporting to the local police district


Recognizance comes along with a potential financial penalty towards the accused if the recognizance is breached, and/or to the sureties should the sureties(s) know conditions are being breached but neglect to report to law enforcement. This financial charge may be called a “bond” and should be relative to the financial means of the individual making the promise. It’s not a deposit and isn’t paid up front, but might be collected following any breach.

It’s easiest to visualize the various bail options (forms of release) as a staircase, with the most lenient form of release at the floor level and detention at the top. Except for cases of reverse onus, the Crown has to dispute its way upwards, to justify more limitations and conditions.

Bail Hearing Procedure Alberta

What Role do Calgary Criminal Lawyers Peter Hoare and Mike C. Gilchrist play in bail court?

Ouellette Hoare Claxton’s, An Association of Independent Law Practices, role is to protect the accused’s rights under the law and interests before the court. In the majority of cases, this means attempting to convince the Crown to advocate a “consent release” to the judge/ justice of the peace.

Should there be no “consent release” and a bail hearing is convened, Ouellette Hoare Claxton An Association of Independent Law Practices will introduce evidence and make arguments to the court about why you should be released on bail.

Further Bail Information:

Alberta Provincial Courts FAQ’s

Judicial Interim Release, Procedures and Practice

Calgary Criminal Law Hoare Claxton Pardons

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