Can I have my Bail Conditions Changed?
Yes, it is possible vary your bail conditions or the conditions of an undertaking. By far the simpler and less expensive method of doing this is a Bail Variation with Crown Consent. Essentially this means a Crown attorney (a prosecutor) and your defence lawyer agree to a certain change in the bail conditions and a Justice of the Peace simply signs off on the agreement.
What happens once the bail variation is completed?
Once the variation has been successfully negotiated by your lawyer, you will simply need to go to court with all your sureties to sign a new (varied) bail in front of a Justice of the Peace.
If the Crown will not consent to the variation, the person on bail can bring an application for a bail review to the Superior Court of Justice. In this scenario, the variation on the bail will be argued in front of a judge. It is the much more expensive and time-consuming option, and therefore much more rare.
How do I get my Bail Conditions Varied?
In the vast majority of cases, the person on bail will have his or her lawyer speak personally to a Crown attorney. Discuss with your lawyer as soon as possible the specifics of the changes you want and your reasons. There will then often be some level of informal negotiation between the lawyers.
It is important to understand that, unfortunately, the accused has no inherent right to have bail conditions changed. The conditions that currently exist were decided upon by a Justice and to change them (without resorting to a bail review before a judge), the accused basically has to rely on the goodwill of the Crown attorney.
This is why it is so important to have a good lawyer to negotiate and persuade the Crown attorney. Believe it or not, bail conditions are often successfully varied or eliminated this way.
Will I Actually be Able to Successfully Vary My Bail Conditions?
The prospect of successfully varying a bail depends mainly on the reasonableness of the proposed change. In all likelihood, the variation will have to connect directly to some good reason. For example, if a person wants a curfew extended, a specific and limited extension for the purposes of a provable job requirement would have the best prospect of success.
Since the conditions were presumably set as they are for some reason (presumably, that is), some change in circumstances may be necessary – or at least very helpful – in convincing a Crown to agree to the variation. That is to say, showing that a bail condition no longer makes any sense due to some change in circumstances makes that variation much more likely to succeed.
Should I get a lawyer to help me with bail variations?
With a good lawyer, however, a Crown may be convinced that the bail condition is simply too strict or unnecessary and should be changed or deleted (even without a material change in circumstances). In all cases, discuss with your lawyer what documents will be helpful. Depending on the sought variation, this may include: letters from friends or community leaders, proof of counseling, proof of employment or school, and/or a letter from the complainant (so long as you didn’t breach your bail conditions just to get that letter!).
A bail variation can be as minor as changing the address of the surety or as major as having entire onerous conditions deleted altogether.
Either way, please understand this blog post is merely an introduction to the issues involved in varying a bail. Nothing can replace proper and specific legal advice and legal representation; especially in the case of bail variations, where you will likely need a lawyer to go into a Crown attorney’s office and argue on your behalf.
Our firm provides an initial consultation at no charge. Call (416) 999-8389 now to discuss your case with one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers.