Frequently Asked Questions
Bail and Sureties
A surety is someone who makes a binding promise to the courts that they will supervise someone if they are released from custody.
This depends on the particular case. Generally, a surety should be:
An adult, preferably at least 21 years old;
A citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
Not presently acting as surety for anyone else;
Have some assets to satisfy any financial commitment they make to the court;
Not a witness to the alleged offences.
These are a general set of criteria. There will be exceptions to some of these items. It is important to speak with a lawyer to determine if a surety is suitable for a specific case.
Although there are a few exceptions, sureties usually do not deposit any funds with the court. If they execute a recognizance of bail, the court will set an amount that the surety will be liable for if the accused breaches his conditions. Should there be a breach, the Crown can choose to commence legal proceedings to get the pledged funds from the surety.
Your responsibilities as a surety are generally:
Ensure the accused attends their court appearances;
Ensure the accused follows the rules of their recognizance of bail;
Report any breaches of the bail conditions to the police.
It lasts until the court proceedings are concluded. This can be a lengthy time commitment ranging from a few months to several years.
For criminal charges, your first appearance is never going to be a trial.
This depends on the complexity of the matter. For simple matters in the Ontario court of Justice, you can expect the following steps to take place:
The Crown will provide you with a copy of the case against you (disclosure);
You review disclosure with your lawyer and give your version of the events;
Your lawyer will conduct a Crown Pretrial (“CPT”) and try to resolve the case or work out a time estimate for a trial;
Your lawyer may meet with a judge in a Judicial Pretrial (“JPT”) to discuss trial estimates or potential sentences on a plea;
You either plead guilty or set your case down for a trial.
This depends on the courthouse; some are busier than others. A trial in the Ontario Court of Justice should take place within 18 months from the date your charges were laid. It will often not take this long; you may see trial dates between 8 and 12 months from when you were charged.
Legal Aid is a publicly funded organization that provides different services for some low-income individuals.
In the criminal courts, they provide duty counsel to assist individuals facing relatively simple charges. They also provide certificates to accused persons who meet certain criteria. A certificate will allow you to hire a private lawyer who accepts legal aid.
This is a question that you should ask a representative from Legal Aid. Generally, you need to meet two criteria in order to be provided with a Legal Aid certificate. The charges must be sufficiently serious and you must meet established financial criteria.
That depends on the location of the charges and the type of charges. I will need to meet with you to determine if I can accept your certificate.