What type of conditions will I have if I am released?

Susan Karpa Criminal Lawyer in CalgaryIf you have been charged or are being investigated, hiring a Calgary bail lawyer is important. I am available to discuss the defence strategy for addressing these charges, the potential consequences of a guilty plea, the specifics of a peace bond if it applies, and any other relevant aspects related to your case. Please reach out to us for a free consultation at 587-888-7149.

What type of conditions will I have if I am released?

If you are arrested for or charged with a crime and released, then your release will come with conditions that you must follow. You can be released on an appearance notice, an undertaking, or bail. The conditions you are released on will depend on the charge you are facing and your situation. Breaching a release condition can – and usually does – result in you being sent to jail and picking up another criminal charge.

The Supreme Court of Canada has made it very clear that most people charged with crimes should be released, that they should be released on the least strict form of release that is reasonable, and that the least strict reasonable release conditions should be imposed.

What are appearance notice release conditions?

Appearance notice release is the least strict form of released. If you are released by the police on an appearance notice, then your only “conditions” will be attending court at the specific date, time and place required, and (in most cases) attending for identification (fingerprinting and photographs) at the specific date, time, and place required. Failing to attend court or for identification is a crime under section 145 of the Criminal Code.

What are undertaking release conditions?

Release on an undertaking is a stricter form of release than release on an appearance notice, but typically a less strict form of release than bail. If you are released by the police on an undertaking, then you will have release conditions in addition to attending court and for identification, and those conditions will depend on the crime you are charged with. The idea is that you are released based on your legally binding promise (i.e., “undertaking”) to follow the conditions.

For example, people charged with child pornography crimes are often released on an undertaking not to have contact with any children or go to certain places where children may be present (such as playgrounds, parks, and public pools).

Similarly, people charged with uttering threats against their partner are often released on an undertaking not to contact their partner or go to their partner’s house or workplace. I have a separate FAQ on these “no contact” conditions.

What are bail release conditions?

Bail is the strictest form of release and the last resort before keeping you in jail until your trial or guilty plea and sentencing. The bail conditions imposed depend heavily on the situation, and they may result from a contested bail hearing in front of a judge or justice of the peace, or a consent bail plan reached in a negotiation between the crown prosecutor and your defence lawyer.

Bail may come with no financial obligation, but will usually require you (or someone acting for you) to either pay a certain amount of money (often between $500.00 and $5000.00), or promise to pay that amount of money if you breach a bail condition. Sometimes, instead of paying or promising to pay money, your release will require a “surety,” which is a person who is legally responsible for you following your release conditions. In rare cases, you may have to pay or promise to pay and have a surety.

Bail release will have other conditions as well. Some common bail release conditions are that you do the following:

  • Remain in Alberta.
  • Deposit your passport.
  • Not contact named person(s) (usually the complainant) (“no-contact”).
  • Not attend within a specified distance of named place(s) (“no-go”).
  • Attend for certain counselling or treatment.
  • Live at a certain address.
  • Follow a curfew (for example, not being outside of your house between 11:00pm and 5:00am).
  • Be on house arrest (i.e., do not leave your house except for specifically allowed exceptions, such as medical appointments, grocery shopping or court).
  • Not consume alcohol or drugs not prescribed to you (or not attend any liquor stores or bars; or not be intoxicated in public).
  • Not possess any weapons.
  • Not possess identification that is not in your name.
  • Not contact anyone who is 16 years old or younger (or not contact anyone under 18 years old).
  • Not attend anywhere children are or are reasonably expected to be present (such as public pools, parks, schoolgrounds, or playgrounds).
  • Not access the internet (often with specified exceptions, like for work on a work device).
  • Not be in possession of any electronic device capable of accessing the internet.

Which of the above release conditions (or other release conditions) are ordered depends on the charged offence. For example, if you are charged with domestic assault against your partner and released on bail, then you will almost always have conditions prohibiting you from contacting or being within a certain distance of your partner or their house, and requiring you to go to counselling for anger management and inter-partner violence (i.e., domestic violence), but you will probably not have a condition not to access the internet.

Some bail release conditions are unique and specifically tailored to the situation. For example, some youth charged with criminal offences and released on bail into a family member’s home have the condition that they must follow any reasonable “written rules” of that home. Often, finding bail conditions that satisfy the crown prosecution, the court, and the accused person requires creativity and collaborative negotiation.