Been Charged? You may need a 'Surety'


Being a surety is a very important responsibility. Having a suitable surety can determine whether or not a person charged with an offence is released while they await their trial and an accused's trial may not take place for many months. 

A person is only entitled to one bail hearing.  It usually takes place in front of a Justice of the Peace of the Ontario Court of Justice. Although a review of that bail hearing (a "bail review") may be brought in front of a Judge at the Superior Court of Justice, an accused is not entitled to do so until 30 days have passed. In addition, bringing an application for a bail review can be expensive and difficult for everyone involved. 

The following are some general guidelines to follow in determining whether a surety is suitable or not:

The surety should:

* Not to have anything to do with the offence

* Not have a criminal record or any outstanding criminal charges

* Be at least 21 years of age

* Be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant

* Be employed (and not as an employee of the accused)

Your duties as a surety include, but are not limited to:

* Ensuring that the accused attends court on time and on every occasion

* Ensuring that the accused obeys all conditions that the court imposes upon the person

* To call the police if the accused breaches any of those conditions

* To be aware of the risk that if the accused breaches his or her conditions while under your supervision, you stand to lose any money or equity that you may have put up to have them released,

What you must remember when acting as surety:

* It is a criminal offence for a person to breach their bail. If a person is caught doing so, they will be charged with a new offence of failing to comply with their conditions. More importantly, it becomes very difficult to be released on bail again on these new charges because of the alleged breach. 

* Conditions can only be changed by a justice of the peace or judge. Nobody can give permission to change the conditions of a person’s bail (except the Crown Attorney and approved by a Justice) - including any or all sureties. 

* You have made a promise to the court and you are required to keep it.
If you do not, then certain consequences may follow. Specifically, you may lose the money that you posted for the person.

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