What is Bail & How Does it Work? Bail in Canada Explained

PUBLISHED ON November 15, 2022

What is bail, and how does it work? A ‘bail,’ formally known as a “recognizance,’ simply means a release from custody. A bail allows an accused person to remain at home or elsewhere instead of jail as their criminal case progresses through the court system. A Judge or Justice of the Peace can grant bail if they believe the accused will appear in court when required and obey the conditions set out in the recognizance.

The following is not legal advice. It is for informational purposes only. If you require legal advice, contact a criminal defence lawyer like Brian Ross directly.  

What Happens at a Bail Hearing?

The work starts before the bail hearing. The lawyer will review the allegations and evidence and start preparing a defence strategy to ensure release to demonstrate that the accused is a good candidate for bail. Factors include:

  • Where the accused will stay while out on bail;
  • Appropriateness of the sureties (people that come forward pledging to supervise the accused);
  • Their employment or educational status;
  • The accused’s ties to the community;
  • The accused’s ability to abide by bail conditions and be present for all court appearances;
  • Counselling or therapy sessions the accused will take to address present and future issues

In some cases, the Crown prosecutor may also consent to the release. Some factors that influence the prosecutor’s decision include:

  • The nature of the offence/type of charge;
  • Likelihood of the accused appearing in court and abiding by bail conditions;
  • Likelihood of the accused threatening the safety of any person or property when released;
  • The accused’s prior criminal record and ties to the community;
  • Likelihood of the accused committing another crime when released

When both sides present their respective cases, the Judge will decide whether to grant reasonable bail. The judge will consider the primary, secondary, and tertiary grounds as indicated in a prior post.

Learn the Different Types of Pre-Trial Releases

Not everyone charged with a criminal offence and suitable for release is released on surety bail. There are different types of releases, and many times, a person charged with an offence is released from the police station without a formal bail hearing. For example, the police may release an individual on an ‘Undertaking.’ An undertaking promises that the accused will appear in court when required and obey conditions. Conditions may include not contacting certain people or abstaining from drugs and alcohol. Where police determine an Undertaking to be inappropriate, the Court may still release an individual on their recognizance (bail without a surety) or with the assistance of a ‘Bail Program,’ where a caseworker from a bail program may assist an accused person’s supervision. Again though, the Court may require that a surety assists in the accused’s supervision – the Court will want the surety to pledge assets on the accused’s behalf to show their commitment (with the potential to lose the assets if the accused fails to meet their bail conditions) to the accused’s supervision.

Discover Your Legal Options Today

Every case is unique, and the most effective way to protect your rights when faced with a criminal offence is to seek legal counsel

Brian Ross and his partners have extensive experience helping people navigate the criminal justice system. The Rusonik, O’Connor, Robbins, Ross & Angelini LLP team works hard to protect their clients’ rights and support them through this challenging process. Contact (416) 658-5855 to discuss your case today.


A criminal record can have lifelong ramifications. Don't take a chance with an inexperienced attorney. I will fight to get your life back as I have done with countless others before you.

(416) 658-5855

Brian Ross is a founding partner at Canada’s largest criminal Law firm, Rusonik, O’Connor, Robbins, Ross & Angelini, LLP. Prior to founding this firm, Brian was a partner at Pinkofskys, a leading law firm famous for its vigorous defence of its clients.

Selected for the 2022, 2023, and 2024 editions of the Best Lawyers in Canada

Inclusion in the Best Lawyers in Canada is based on a rigorous peer-review survey. Recognition by Best Lawyers symbolizes excellence in practice and specifically, high calibre work in criminal defence.


Mr. Ross is a member of the Criminal Lawyer’s Association and Legal Aid Ontario’s “Extremely Serious Matters” Panel, consisting of criminal lawyers deemed to have the proven experience necessary to conduct trials in the most serious of criminal matters.


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