What is a surety?

When a person is charged with a criminal offense, a Judge or Justice of the Peace must decide whether to release the accused person on bail, or to keep them in custody until their charges have concluded. One of the available options for release is for the accused to be released into the community under the supervision of one or more sureties. A surety is a person who takes responsibility for making sure the accused attends required court appearances and obeys the release conditions placed on them by the Court. A surety will post a sum of money, or an interest in property, which they risk forfeiting if they do not notify the police of any breaches by the accused. This added level of supervision can often give the Court the confidence they need to release an accused who might otherwise not be suitable for bail. A person must be […]

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The Supreme Court Comments on Bail

Enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the presumption of innocence and the right not to be denied reasonable bail without just cause. In a recent decision on bail called R. v. Antic, the Supreme Court commented on the importance of these aforementioned rights. In Antic, the Supreme Court voiced their displeasure with lower courts sidestepping the ladder approach to bail, which is codified in section 515(3) of the Criminal Code. The ladder approach begins with the default position that an accused should be released on an undertaking without conditions, and only when the Crown can show justifiable reasons does an accused move up the ladder. It moves up first with release on conditions without cash deposit, then with release on conditions with a surety, and finally, with release on conditions with cash deposit. Each rung must be deliberately weighed, and if any one rung feels like […]

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The Intersection Between Mental Health and the Law

Assistant Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of Alberta Larry Anderson recently announced the creation of a specialized mental health court to better consider the needs of the large number of people who struggle with mental health issues and the law. For long time criminal defence practitioners, this cannot come soon enough. In speaking with CBC, Judge Anderson estimated that of the 150 new files which appear before the Provincial Court every day, 10-25% of the accused have mental health needs. In our opinion, this is an understatement. The frequency with which the criminal justice system and individuals with mental health needs interact is likely far greater. In this post, we explore some of the ways in which the lawyers at Royal and Company have seen those with mental health concerns come in contact with the criminal law. The most obvious way that this happens is when an individual suffering […]

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