Bail and release from custody

Bail and release from custody

What is a bail hearing?

If police do not release the person who has been arrested, they must bring him before a justice for a bail hearing within 24 hours or as soon as possible. A bail hearing is a procedure where a judge or a justice of the peace determines whether a person charged with an offence should be released or held in custody pending trial.

Will I be held for a bail hearing?

If you are arrested for a criminal offence, police can release you from the place where the arrest is made or from the police station. Or they may hold you for a bail hearing later that day or the next.

Release without a bail hearing:

Summons, promise to appear

Except for murder and a few other very serious offences, a person arrested without a warrant can be released by way of a summons, appearance notice or promise to appear. Police will do so unless one or more of the following circumstances apply:

  • they need to establish your identity
  • they fear you will destroy evidence relating to their investigation
  • they fear you will continue or repeat the offence or commit other offences
  • they have reasonable grounds to believe you will not show up for court.


In addition to a summons or promise to appear, police may make a person’s release conditional on his or her entering into a recognizance without sureties in an amount up to $500 and without deposit of money. An out-of-province resident can be asked to enter a recognizance without sureties and deposit up to $500 cash.

Undertaking with conditions

Following arrest, a person also may be released on entering an undertaking with one or more of the following terms:

  • remain within a certain area (city, country or province)
  • deposit the person’s passport
  • notify police of any change in address or employment
  • abstain from communicating with any person or from going to any place
  • abstain from possessing a firearm and surrender any firearm
  • report to police at specified times
  • abstain from consuming alcohol or other intoxicating substances
  • abstain from taking drugs except in accordance with a medical prescription