It’s possible to be released on bail while you await your court date for a domestic assault charge. However, police officers and Crown prosecutors will have to examine several factors before granting bail to ensure you don’t pose a threat to your accuser or other members of the public.
How the Crown Decides to Grant Bail in Family Violence Cases
You should be brought before the court for a bail hearing within 24 hours of your detention. If the police decide that you are unlikely to cause harm while out on bail, you could be released from custody and compelled to meet your court dates by an Appearance Notice or summons. You will likely also have to appear at a police station a few days after release to your have fingerprints and photographs taken.
If you aren’t in court on the specified date or fail to attend your fingerprinting appointment, you can be arrested and charged with the criminal offence of failing to appear.
The court will consider the following factors before granting bail:
- The history of the relationship (including whether charges have been laid against either participant in the past and whether your release could “reignite” the argument between you)
- The nature of the offence (including the location, who was present, the extent of any injuries, and whether weapons were used)
- Your personal and criminal history (including any accusations or evidence of criminal harassment, prior breach of a court order, previous acts of violence, mental health problems, or drug or alcohol abuse)
- Whether family court proceedings are pending (such as divorce or protection orders or restrictions imposed by a child protection agency)
- The accuser’s concerns (including your ability to see your children)
- The strength of the Crown’s case against you
- The risk assessment checklist completed by police officers attending the incident
Is There Anything I Can’t Do When I’m on Bail Before My Hearing?
The majority of defendants granted bail in domestic assault cases will have to agree to certain conditions while awaiting trial. These conditions place restrictions on your movements, including your ability to visit places you usually frequent or to see or speak to people involved in the incident.
If you violate any of the terms of your bail, you will be arrested and required to attend a new bail hearing. Getting bail a second time will be much more difficult—and even if bail is granted, it will likely involve conditions similar to house arrest.
While on bail, you could be held to some combination of the following orders:
- Do not attempt to contact the alleged victim through phone calls, text messages, social media.
- Do not attempt to contact the alleged victim indirectly through relatives, shared friends, coworkers, or another third party.
- Do not attempt to visit, return to, or come into close proximity to your accuser’s residence (even if you live together).
- Do not attempt to visit your accuser’s workplace, college, house of worship, or other places they usually go.
- You must remain within a territorial jurisdiction.
- You must notify the police of any changes in your living or working situation (such as a change of address, employer, or occupation).
- You may not visit specific locations named by the accuser.
- You may not contact any children in common with the accuser.
- You must surrender your passport.
- You must abstain from possessing any firearm and surrender any firearms licenses until the charges have been addressed.
- You must report to the police at certain intervals.
- You must not consume alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances (except for drugs that have been medically prescribed to you).
- You must comply with any other condition that law enforcement deems necessary to ensure the security of alleged victims or witnesses.
Bail conditions that allow access to children are especially hard for a defendant to navigate. The law allows contact between parents through a mutually-agreeable third party, but only to arrange and facilitate child access. If you attempt to speak to your partner about anything outside the strict bounds of communication, you may be arrested for violating bail.
Let Us Guide You Through Your Domestic Assault Case
If you have been charged with domestic assault in Ontario, the experienced domestic assault defence lawyers at Kruse Law Firm can help you avoid conviction and minimise the collateral damage these accusations can cause. Contact us today to learn more in your free case review.