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What happens if I break the rules of bail in Ontario?

Being home while you await trial for a criminal offence can come as a great relief to anyone, as the alternative can involve awaiting trial in jail.

If the judge or justice of the peace releases you on bail, you must comply with the conditions the court sets. If you fail to, you could face severe consequences for breaking the rules of bail.

Reasonable conditions

There are numerous conditions you must follow, depending on factors including the charges you are facing. That said, some examples of bail conditions could include:

  • Staying away from the alleged victim
  • Staying away from specific places
  • Surrendering of any weapons
  • Refraining from using drugs or alcohol
  • Living with a surety (the person authorized to supervise you)
  • Staying home at night
  • Attending all required court sessions

These and other conditions are in place to ensure a person does not break any laws and shows up for court whenever necessary.

It is not uncommon for people to feel that their bail conditions are overly aggressive and complicated. However, as recently clarified in a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada, Parliament intended bail conditions to be reasonable, minimal and dependent on the accused party's risk for fleeing or becoming violent. If you feel you cannot comply with the terms set in your case, you should consult your lawyer as soon as possible.

Subjective vs. objective

In that same ruling, the top court also stated that all Canadian courts must establish guilt utilizing subjective standards for breaches of bail. 

Under the subjective standard, a person must violate bail conditions recklessly or knowingly to be guilty of the offence. This standard is opposed to the objective standard. Per the objective standard, people can be guilty of failing to comply with requirements even if they did not know about them or when their behaviour does not align with a reasonable person's actions.

If you are accused of breaking the rules of your bail, you could face arrest for breach of bail conditions. If the courts revoke bail, they will order a new hearing, and it will be less likely that they will release you on bail again.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding compliance with bail conditions, discuss them right away with your lawyer to avoid costly penalties and additional criminal charges.

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