What is a bail hearing?

If the police have concerns about releasing your partner, they must take him to court for a bail hearing. The judge or justice of the peace will decide whether to release him while he waits for his trial, or to keep him in custody until the trial.

Bail hearing: when the person charged with a crime goes to court after they have been arrested. At court, they ask a judge or a justice of the peace to decide whether the police can continue to keep them in jail, or whether they must let them go.

The person may be let go with “conditions” that they must follow. For example, the court might order them to stay away from their partner.

Important: You do not have to go to the bail hearing.

Tell the investigating officer what you want the court to know about your partner. You can ask for conditions you want on his release either when you give a statement, or as soon as possible after that. This is important, especially if you feel afraid. If you need help explaining your concerns, you can call VWAP, a shelter, or a Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centre for help.

If your partner is held for a bail hearing, staff from VWAP will try to call you before he is released to ask you for information, such as safety concerns, that you would like the Crown Attorney to know. It is important for you to give the police an up-to-date phone number so that they can call you.

Bail, also known as a “recognizance of bail”, is a court order that lets you remain in the community while your case is in the court system.

A bail hearing is not a trial. The judge or justice of the peace doesn’t decide whether you’re guilty or innocent. Instead, they decide whether or not you should go back into the community while your case is in criminal court. If you’re denied bail you will be kept in custody while your case is ongoing.

A bail hearing is also known as a show cause hearing. That is because usually the Crown must “show cause” why you shouldn’t be released from custody on the least strict type of release: an undertaking without conditions.  

An undertaking without conditions lets you be released from custody as long as you promise to go to court when required. If the Crown wants you to follow more conditions if you’re released, they must explain to the judge or justice of the peace why.

Sometimes, you may need to “show cause” why you should be allowed to go back into the community while your case is in court. This is called a “reverse onus” bail hearing. A reverse onus bail hearing happens if:

  • you were already on a release and now you’re facing new, unrelated criminal charges
  • you were already on a release and you didn’t follow your conditions, and have been charged with failure to comply
  • you were charged with a drug offence involving the sale of drugs
  • you were charged with certain serious offences

At a bail hearing, a judge or justice of the peace will decide if you should be held in custody or released. If you’re granted bail, you will likely have to follow conditions given to you by the court.

Your bail hearing is a very important step in the criminal court process. You only get one bail hearing in the Ontario Court of Justice. If you’re denied bail, you will be in custody until your case is resolved, goes to trial, or you’re released after a bail review in the Superior Court of Justice.

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