Protection Orders – Part 4: A Basic Guide to Bail Conditions or ‘Terms of Release’
Bail Conditions or ‘Terms of Release’ are restrictions placed on a person’s behaviour when they are allowed to leave police custody or jail and go back into the community. This means that if the court decides to release the person into the community, they must follow strict rules or risk going back to jail. Terms of release almost always include a condition that the person being released is not allowed to have any contact or communication with the victim or complainant in the case. In most cases, terms of release or bail conditions will last until the case comes to an end.
You can try to get information on a person’s bail conditions by contacting the Crown Counsel (prosecutor), the police, or the Victim/Witness Assistance Program.
What is bail and what is a bail hearing?
Bail is written permission from the court that allows a person charged with a criminal offence (called the “accused”) to be released from jail while they wait for a trial or some other result in the case (such as a guilty plea or withdrawal of charges).
A bail hearing is when the accused person appears in court and a judge or justice of the peace decides if the accused should be released on bail. An accused person must get a bail hearing within 24 hours of arrest. The Crown Counsel (government lawyer) will present its case for why the accused should be held in jail. The accused’s lawyer (defence) will present evidence to the court about why the person should be released into the community. Mainly, the defence will try to show that the accused will follow certain conditions, is not a danger to the public and will show up at court appearances. If the accused person abused or assaulted you and you are afraid of this person, you should tell the police or Crown Counsel so that they can recommend to the court that the accused be held in jail.
What is probation?
Probation is when a person who has been found guilty of a criminal offence (convicted) is released into the community, but must follow certain conditions and be on good behaviour or they will go to jail. In many domestic assault cases where the incident is considered minor, a convicted person is allowed probation instead of serving jail time. In other cases, probation is when a convicted person is released after serving time in jail. Probation orders can last up to three years and usually require that the individual must regularly report to a probation officer, attend certain support programs and have no contact with the complainant or victim.
How do I get special Conditions or Terms of Release?
If a person has assaulted you and has not yet had their bail hearing, the Crown Counsel should ask you, before the bail hearing takes place, what you would like to have included in the Terms of Release.
If you say that you do not want the accused to be able to approach you, call you, or contact you and your family, the Crown should take these conditions and suggest them as terms of release to the court.
A Justice of the Peace will make a decision based on both the Crown’s suggestions and the defence’s arguments.
What happens if the Terms of Release are not followed?
If the terms of release are not followed (breached), you can call the police. The individual can be charged with breaching their bail conditions or probation order. The individual can be arrested, and brought in front of the court for a new hearing where new conditions of release may be negotiated or it may be decided that the person should be held in jail.
How do I get the Terms of Release changed?
The Victim Witness Assistance Program office can help you talk to the Crown Counsel to ask about making the terms of release either more or less strict. You can find your local VWAP office at 1-888-579-2888. At a bail review meeting, the presiding judge will decide whether a change in the terms of release is appropriate.