How are Bail Conditions Changed?
There are two ways you can attempt to get bail conditions changed. The best method to have your bail conditions changed is to obtain consent to a bail variation from an Assistant Crown Attorney pursuant to section 515.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The second way to change your bail conditions involves bringing a bail review in Superior Court of Justice in accordance with s. 520. Although it may not seem fair, you are not entitled as a right to have your bail conditions changed.
Bail Variation on Consent vs. Application for Bail Review
Changing you bail conditions on consent with the Crown Attorney is the easier of the two methods. It is also the least expensive and most expedient method to have your bail conditions changed. Attempting to change your bail conditions through a bail review can be an expensive proposition as your lawyer will have to make an application for bail review, give notice to the Crown Attorney, order the necessary transcripts, and attend in the Superior Court of Justice to make submissions before a judge about why your terms of bail should be changed. Alternatively, arranging for an Assistant Crown Attorney to consent to a bail variation can be done relatively quickly and it will cost substantially less in lawyer’s fees.
For example, if your employer changes you work hours from day shifts to evening shifts and your curfew prevents you from attending work, arranging for bail variation on consent could be as simple as your lawyer having a discussion with the Crown Attorney and providing some form of documentation from your employer indicating your employment hours have changed. Once your lawyer and the Crown Attorney agree on the new terms of bail, you only need to attend court and sign the new term of bail.
In circumstances where the Crown Attorney will not agree to the proposed bail variation, you will have to bring an application for a bail review. Your lawyer will need to formally notify the Crown Attorney 2 clear days in advance of an application for a bail review, unless the Crown Attorney consents to waiving with notice requirement. In addition, you will be required to file a transcript of the original bail hearing. Arranging for a court reporter to have transcripts made can take a week or more, and the cost of having these transcripts done can be very expensive. If your original bail hearing was a lengthy one, it may cost a few hundred dollars to have the appropriate number of transcripts made. Finally, if you are unsuccessful at a bail review, you will be unable to bring an application for another bail review for 30 days, unless a judge otherwise consents.
Likelihood of Success
The likelihood of successfully getting your bail conditions changed will be dependent upon the reasonableness of your request. Some of the factors that the Crown Attorney may take into consideration when you request for consent to a bail variation include;
- What condition(s) you are asking be changed.
- What criminal offences you are charged with.
- The reasons offered for why the conditions should be changed.
- Any potential safety concerns with respect to the victim.
- Whether you have been compliant with your bail conditions to date.
The likelihood of successfully changing your bail conditions is much greater by attempting to get the Crown Attorney to consent to a bail variation. When you apply to the Superior Court for a bail review, the onus will be on you to establish that the Justice of the Peace made an error of law or there has been a material change of circumstances since the Justice of the Peace originally granted you bail. A material change of circumstances might include new employment that requires you to work beyond your curfew or you are moving and your bail conditions require that you to reside at a specific address. Alternatively, when you change your bail conditions pursuant to s. 515.1, all that is required is that the Crown Attorney consent to the bail variation. However, you should expect that the Crown Attorney will not agree to a bail variation unless there is a reasonable reason for doing so.
Hire a Lawyer if You Haven’t Already
Hiring a lawyer to negotiate a bail variation on your behalf is essential. The reality is that an Assistant Crown Attorney is likely going to be more receptive to a lawyer than an accused when he or she is approached about a bail variation. A lawyer may also have a good working relationship with the Assistant Crown Attorney who is case managing your file and will be in a better position to approach that person for the purpose of discussing a bail variation. If you have to apply to the Court for a bail review, a lawyer can complete the proper application, arrange for copies of transcripts of the original bail hearing, and advocate before a judge for a change in your bail conditions.
If you or someone you know needs a bail variation, contact me immediately so I can begin the process right away. Until such time that your bail is changed, it is imperative that you continue to completely and fully comply with your current terms of bail.