There has been discussion in the past few weeks about the bail process, after recent incidents in Weyburn.
Crown Prosecutor Allie Derwin recently spoke with Discover Weyburn on the bail process as it pertains to the Canadian criminal justice system. She said that individuals have the right to reasonable bail, and the right not to be denied bail without just cause.
"The Supreme Court of Canada has noted that in Canadian law, the release of accused persons is the cardinal rule, and detention is the exception. At the bail stage, individuals are presumed innocent. This is why bail conditions may only be imposed to the extent that they are necessary, meaning that individuals cannot be released on excessive conditions."
Derwin said that before a matter appears in court, Police have the discretion to decide who is released and who is detained. There are many factors to consider in this decision, including the likelihood of court appearance, the seriousness of the offence, their criminal record, and whether there are conditions the individual can follow to prevent re-offending and for public safety.
She stated that, "Considerations made by Police to keep an individual in custody or not, are similar to the considerations made by a Judge at a bail hearing."
An individual may be released on a document called an Undertaking, with conditions that are tailored to the specific offence and the specific offender.
"For example, in a case of a sexual offence against a child, common conditions are to attend court when required, not contact any child under the age of 16, not to contact the victim directly or through a third party, and not attend to the victim’s home, workplace, or school. There may be exceptions made to these conditions based on the individual’s circumstances, like contact being allowed with someone under the age of 16 if they are supervised by an employer or another adult."
Derwin further elaborated that if an individual is not released by Police, they will appear in court as soon as practicable before a Judge, where the Judge will hear information from both the Crown and the Defense.
"The Judge’s decision to release is based on s. 515(10) of the Criminal Code [Justification for detention in custody]. The burden is typically on the Crown to justify an individual’s detention on a balance of probabilities."
"Bail will be granted when it is more likely than not that an individual will come to court and follow conditions in the community that will keep the public safe until their charges have been dealt with."