Sometimes, individuals charged with a criminal offence are released on what’s called an “appearance notice” or “promise to appear”, which has no conditions and no bail associated with it other than a promise to attend court as specified in that document.
For all other matters where the matter is somewhat more serious, and in most cases of domestic violence bail conditions are set out in a Court document known as an Undertaking or a Recognizance. These conditions may vary depending on the seriousness of the charges, your criminal record, and the strength of your release plan.
The first component of a conditional release on an undertaking or recognizance is determining whether release should be secured by cash, no cash, or surety. You may be released on a “no cash own recognizance”, which means that you are not required to pay any cash bail. If you are released on your own recognizance, you will be released on a bail amount that you are not required to deposit. It typically ranges from $2,000-$5,000, and you are not required to pay that money unless you breach the conditions of your recognizance or fail to appear for court.
Alternately, you may be released on cash bail. If you are released on cash bail, this money will need to be paid prior to your release. Once you have dealt with the charges the money will be returned to the individual who paid it. If you breach the conditions of your release, or fail to show up for court, you will forfeit the money paid towards your bail.
Finally, you may be released if a third party acts a “surety” during your release. A surety is a third party who promises to supervise you while you are on release. In addition, the surety provides a bond in the form of cash or property, which will be forfeited if you breach a condition of your recognizance or fail to show up for court.
Your recognizance may require you to comply with a variety of conditions while on bail. The following conditions are standard for all recognizances:
- Keep the peace and be of good behaviour;
- Report to probation as directed;
- Reside where approved; and,
- Attend in Court as directed.
Depending on the circumstances of your charges, you may have additional conditions, which may include:
- Deposit your passport;
- Abstain from communicating directly or indirectly with named individuals;
- Abstain from attending named locations;
- Abstain from consuming alcohol or other intoxicating substances;
- Not be in possession of a cellphone;
- Not be in possession of a weapon;
- Remain within Alberta;
- Abide by curfew;
- Abide by house arrest;
- Attend for counselling/treatment;
- Not be behind the wheel of any motor vehicle;
- Not be in a motor vehicle without the registered owner;
- Not be in possession of identification that is not in your name;
- Not be in contact with anyone younger than 18 years of age;
- Not have access to the internet;
- Not be in possession of any electronic device capable of accessing the internet;
- And others.
This list is not exhaustive, and unique circumstances require creative conditions to be imposed. In some cases, we have crafted conditions that require a person in custody to be released directly into the care of a family or friend, who takes them directly to a residential treatment facility, or sometimes even out of the Province. In at least one instance, we put a clause in place that required our client to sell his vehicle to convince the judge he wouldn’t be driving while on release. The conditions can sometimes be difficult to comply with, but it’s better to be bound by restrictive conditions and be out of custody, than to stay in jail until the case is done. In every case, it is important to discuss your unique situation with a criminal defence lawyer to create a custom tailored plan for your particular situation.