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Bail Hearings

While there are Criminal Code provisions that permit a suspect to avoid being arrested or held in police custody, in serious cases, police will forward their report to Crown and include a request to apply to the court for the accused to be detained in custody pending their trial. In British Columbia, there can be waits of several months for a trial date, even when the accused is detained. As defence lawyers, we certainly appreciate that criminal law presumes our client to be innocent unless the Crown is able to prove, at trial, that they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, because our client is presumed innocent, we will always make forceful arguments that they should be released from pre-trial custody on reasonable terms.

Recent Successes

R. vs. J.T. - Surrey Provincial Court

Charges: Assault; Resist /Obstruct Police.
Issue: Whether there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction and whether there was a public interest in proceeding with the charges.
Result: Mr. Johnson provided Crown with additional information regarding the alleged facts of the assault complaint and the excessive force used by police in arresting our client.  Ultimately Mr. Johnson persuaded Crown counsel to stay the proceedings on both charges. No criminal record.

R. vs. J.M. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault Causing Bodily Harm.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for our client to receive a conviction on this charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade the Court to grant our client a conditional discharge. No conviction.

R. vs. T.A. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Commit Indecent Act.
Issue: Whether it was appropriate for Crown to proceed with the charge.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to present information on our client's behalf and was able to persuade Crown counsel that there was no longer any public interest in proceeding with this matter. Stay of proceedings. Warrant cancelled. No criminal record.

R. vs. H.L. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Driving While Prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with the charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to proceed on the lesser offence of driving without a valid licence. Rather than a mandatory minimum 12 month driving prohibition, our client was sentenced to a $300 fine and a 3 month prohibition.

R. vs. L.W. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Criminal Harassment (reduced to Peace Bond).
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for Crown to prosecute our client on the criminal harassment charge;
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to stay the criminal charge upon our client entering into a s. 810 Peace Bond for 12 months. No criminal record.

R. vs. K.M. - Surrey RCMP Investigation

Charge: Sexual Assault.
Issue: Whether there was sufficient evidence to meet the Crown's charge approval standard.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to steer our client through the investigation and was able to provide information to police and Crown which culminated in Crown counsel's decision to not approve any charges. No criminal record.

R. vs. P.H.S. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Driving While Prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest for Crown to proceed with the charge.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown to allow our client to plead to s. 24(1) of the Motor Vehicle Act. Rather than the mandatory minimum 12 month driving prohibition, our client was sentenced to a $300 fine and a two month driving prohibition.

R. vs. K.K. - North Vancouver Provincial Court

Charges: Sexual Assault x2; Sexual Interference.
Issue: Given the extensive information that we were able to provide to Crown counsel, whether there remained a substantial likelihood of a conviction.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to enter a stay of proceedings on all counts. No jail. No criminal record.

R. vs. C.F. - Port Coquitlam Provincial Court

Charge: Assault (reduced to s. 810 Peace Bond).
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether it was appropriate for Crown to proceed.
Result: Mr. Mines was first able to persuade Crown to proceed on a Peace Bond application rather than the criminal assault charge. He was then able to persuade Crown to withdraw its Peace Bond application. No criminal record.

R. vs. T.K.- Abbotsford Provincial Court

Charge: Driving without consideration; driving past police vehicle; speeding.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with all counts, which upon conviction would have led to a driving prohibition.
Result: Mr. Mines was able to negotiate a resolution where our client pleaded guilty to only a three point speeding ticket and police withdrew the remaining counts. Our client was sentenced to a fine. No driving prohibition.

R. vs. E.W. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Assault.
Issue: Given the rehabilitative steps we were able to guide our client through, whether it was in the public interest for our client to receive a criminal conviction.
Result: After hearing Mr. Johnson's submissions on our client's behalf, the court granted our client a conditional discharge. No criminal conviction.

R. vs. J.D. - Vancouver Provincial Court

Charge: Driving while Prohibited.
Issue: Whether it was in the public interest to proceed with this charge which carries a one year mandatory minimum driving prohibition.
Result: Mr. Johnson was able to persuade Crown counsel to permit our client to resolve this matter by pleading guilty to the lesser offence of driving without a valid licence. Our client was sentenced to a fine. No driving prohibition.

Showing “Cause”

A term that arises in the context of a bail hearing is “show cause.” This term refers to the burden placed (normally on the Crown) to demonstrate to the court to justify why the accused should be detained in custody. In order to show cause for detention, the Crown must satisfy the court, on a balance of probabilities, that there are reasonable grounds to do so. The three grounds that are considered include:

The Primary Ground: that the detention of the accused is necessary to ensure the accused’s attendance at court on future dates.

In cases where our client has no history of failing to attend court or no history of failing to obey court imposed conditions, we will argue that the Crown has failed to meet their burden and that our client is entitled to be released from custody.

The Secondary Ground: that the detention of the accused is necessary for the protection and safety of the public from the risk of the accused committing further offences, including interfering with or intimidating witnesses.

In cases where our client has no history of committing criminal offences, we will argue that the Crown has failed to meet their burden and that our client is entitled to be released from custody.

The Tertiary Ground: that the detention of the accused is necessary to maintain public confidence in the court to administer justice. Under this ground, the court must consider circumstances including, the apparent strength of the Crown’s case, the gravity of the offence and whether a firearm was used in the commission of the offence.

In cases where the Crown seeks detention on the tertiary ground, we will put forth a proposed release plan that will ensure that our client obeys terms and conditions to ensure community safety. We will advance arguments that “public confidence in the administration of justice” includes the notion that a well-informed public knows and appreciates that Canadian law entitles accused persons to be presumed innocent prior to a finding of guilt at trial.

Reverse Onus

While the Crown generally has the onus of proving that a detention order is necessary, there are some situations that the Criminal Code sets out that the accused has the burden of justifying their release. The conditions that trigger the “reverse onus” provisions include:

  • Where Crown alleges that an accused who has already been released has breached one or more of their release conditions (i.e. a “no contact” order);
  • Where Crown alleges that an accused who has been released has committed a subsequent offence;
  • Where the accused is charged with certain serious offences, such as firearms, weapons, drug trafficking, criminal organization or terrorism-related offences.

The existence of any of the conditions which invoke the “reverse onus” provisions make it significantly more difficult to be granted bail. It is, therefore, imperative to obtain the assistance of skilled and experienced counsel.

Preparing for a Bail Hearing

Our role as defence counsel in preparing for a bail hearing is to gather as much information as possible regarding the nature and strength of the Crown’s case. We will obtain as much of the police report to Crown as quickly as it is made available. We will meet with our client (including a visit to police lock-up or jail if necessary) and our client’s family to obtain information and to develop a release plan. In some situations, it may be necessary to raise a cash deposit or to arrange a surety to guarantee our client’s compliance with release conditions and return to court. Surety bail involves a person, usually a relative or close friend of the accused, who acts as a guarantor by pledging real estate property to secure a set financial amount (perhaps in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars) that is payable to the court in the event that the accused breaches a condition or fails to return to court.

In preparing for a bail hearing, we will assemble all relevant information and present it to the court in our proposal to have our client released from custody on the least restrictive conditions that are appropriate in the circumstances.

Start with a free consultation.

If you are being investigated by police or if you’ve been charged with a criminal or driving offence, don’t face the problem alone. Being accused of an offence is stressful. The prospects of a criminal record or jail sentence can be daunting. Even if you think there is no defence, we may be able to help. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our Vancouver lawyers, contact us now.