What If I Violate My Bail Conditions?


Breaching the terms of your bail is a crime that could land you in jail. Ironically, you could be convicted of violating bail and later be found not guilty of the original offence. Interestingly enough, one of the terms of your conditions may be not to be out late at night, which is not ordinarily considered a crime.

It is the duty of a prosecutor to prove you breached a condition of your release and knowingly did so. That intent is important.

In R. v. Zora, the Supreme Court ruled that to be found guilty of breaching bail conditions, an accused must realize they are breaching the terms or know they are seriously risking it.

In the case, a man was released on bail and one of the terms stated that he had to be home at a certain time and come to the door within five minutes when someone was knocking. Twice police went to the door and when he didn’t answer either time, he was charged.

The man claimed he was home both times but didn’t hear the knock and a judge found him guilty of violating bail.

In overturning the ruling, the Supreme Court stated that a person must do something that is against the law, which is called the actus reus (guilty act). But that person must always be aware of what might happen, having the mens rea, or a guilty mind.

In its unanimous decision, the SCC found the mens rea for breaching a bail condition was subjective and court must consider what the person actually knew or was aware might happen when deciding if a breach occurred.

What if I had a good reason to breach the conditions of my bail?

When I represent you in a bail hearing, I will work diligently to ensure the terms are not so restrictive that you are not able to comply. However, there may be a time when you violate a condition even though it was not your intention to commit a criminal act. For example, if you are restricted from leaving your home between midnight and 6 a.m. and you fall seriously ill at 2 a.m., would you be convicted if you went to hospital? It is unlikely.

Of course, the outcome of your case will depend on the evidence. As a Calgary criminal lawyer, I have successfully represented clients in all matters of bail hearings and I can guide you through what can be a complex legal matter. Check out my cases for release and bail section to see how I can serve you.