Terms of Release

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This page was last substantively updated or reviewed January 2020. (Rev. # 86558)

General Principles

Despite the presumption of innocence the court is entitled to deprive the accused of liberty before any findings of guilt.[1]

The restrictions on liberty through bail may be made "in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice where there are reasonable grounds for doing so, rather than only after guilt has been established beyond a reasonable doubt."[2]

The release powers of a Justice is given in sections 515(1) and (2) which state:

Release order without conditions

515 (1) Subject to this section, when an accused who is charged with an offence other than an offence listed in section 469 [exclusive jurisdiction offences] is taken before a justice, the justice shall, unless a plea of guilty by the accused is accepted, make a release order in respect of that offence, without conditions, unless the prosecutor, having been given a reasonable opportunity to do so, shows cause, in respect of that offence, why the detention of the accused in custody is justified or why an order under any other provision of this section should be made.

Release order with conditions

(2) If the justice does not make an order under subsection (1) [release order without conditions], the justice shall, unless the prosecutor shows cause why the detention of the accused is justified, make a release order that sets out the conditions directed by the justice under subsection (4) [permissible conditions on release order] and, as the case may be,

(a) an indication that the release order does not include any financial obligations;
(b) the accused’s promise to pay a specified amount if they fail to comply with a condition of the order;
(c) the obligation to have one or more sureties, with or without the accused’s promise to pay a specified amount if they fail to comply with a condition of the order;
(d) the obligation to deposit money or other valuable security in a specified amount or value, with or without the accused’s promise to pay a specified amount if they fail to comply with a condition of the order; or
(e) if the accused is not ordinarily resident in the province in which they are in custody or does not ordinarily reside within 200 kilometres of the place in which they are in custody, the obligation to deposit money or other valuable security in a specified amount or value, with or without the accused’s promise to pay a specified amount by the justice if they fail to comply with a condition of the order and with or without sureties.
Imposition of least onerous form of release

(2.01) The justice shall not make an order containing the conditions referred to in one of the paragraphs (2)(b) to (e) [release order with conditions – required obligations (select)] unless the prosecution shows cause why an order containing the conditions referred to in the preceding paragraphs for any less onerous form of release would be inadequate.
[omitted (2.02), (2.03), (2.1), (2.2), (2.3), (3), (4), (4.1), (4.11), (4.12), (4.2), (4.3), (5), (6), (6.1), (7), (8), (9), (9.1), (10), (11), (12), (13) and (14)]
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 515; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), ss. 83, 186; 1991, c. 40, s. 31; 1993, c. 45, s. 8; 1994, c. 44, s. 44; 1995, c. 39, s. 153; 1996, c. 19, ss. 71, 93.3; 1997, c. 18, s. 59, c. 23, s. 16; 1999, c. 5, s. 21, c. 25, s. 8(Preamble); 2001, c. 32, s. 37, c. 41, ss. 19, 133; 2008, c. 6, s. 37; 2009, c. 22, s. 17, c. 29, s. 2; 2010, c. 20, s. 1; 2012, c. 1, s. 32; 2014, c. 17, s. 14; 2015, c. 13, s. 20; 2018, c. 16, s. 218; 2019, c. 25, s. 225; 2021, c. 27, s. 4; 2022, c. 17, s. 32(E); 2023, c. 7, s. 1.
[annotation(s) added]

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 515(1), (2) and (2.01)

  1. R v Pearson, 1992 CanLII 52 (SCC), 77 CCC (3d) 124, per Lamer CJ
  2. Pearson, ibid.

Issuance of a Release Order

Release of accused

519 (1) Where a justice makes an order under subsection 515(1) [release order without conditions], (2) [release order with conditions], (7) [release order] or (8) [release of person not resident to Canada],

(a) if the accused thereupon complies with the order, the justice shall direct that the accused be released
(i) forthwith, if the accused is not required to be detained in custody in respect of any other matter, or
(ii) as soon thereafter as the accused is no longer required to be detained in custody in respect of any other matter; and
(b) if the accused does not thereupon comply with the order, the justice who made the order or another justice having jurisdiction shall issue a warrant for the committal of the accused and may endorse thereon an authorization to the person having the custody of the accused to release the accused when the accused complies with the order
(i) forthwith after the compliance, if the accused is not required to be detained in custody in respect of any other matter, or
(ii) as soon thereafter as the accused is no longer required to be detained in custody in respect of any other matter
and if the justice so endorses the warrant, he shall attach to it a copy of the order.
[omitted (c)]

[omitted (2) and (3)]
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 519; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 85.
[annotation(s) added]

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 519(1)

Conditions

The crown must establish the evidentiary basis that underlies the condition sought.

There must be some "real purpose" behind the imposition of the condition.[1]

515
[omitted (1), (2), (2.01), (2.02), (2.03), (2.1), (2.2), (2.3) and (3)]

Conditions authorized

(4) When making an order under subsection (2) [release order with conditions], the justice may direct the accused to comply with one or more of the following conditions specified in the order:

(a) report at specified times to a peace officer, or other person, designated in the order;
(b) remain within a specified territorial jurisdiction;
(c) notify a peace officer or other person designated in the order of any change in their address, employment or occupation;
(d) abstain from communicating, directly or indirectly, with any victim, witness or other person identified in the order, except in accordance with any specified conditions that the justice considers necessary;
(e) abstain from going to any place or entering any geographic area specified in the order, except in accordance with any specified conditions that the justice considers necessary;
(f) deposit all their passports as specified in the order;
(g) comply with any other specified condition that the justice considers necessary to ensure the safety and security of any victim of or witness to the offence; and
(h) comply with any other reasonable conditions specified in the order that the justice considers desirable.

[omitted (4.1), (4.11), (4.12), (4.2), (4.3), (5), (6), (6.1), (7), (8), (9), (9.1), (10), (11), (12), (13) and (14)]
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 515; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), ss. 83, 186; 1991, c. 40, s. 31; 1993, c. 45, s. 8; 1994, c. 44, s. 44; 1995, c. 39, s. 153; 1996, c. 19, ss. 71, 93.3; 1997, c. 18, s. 59, c. 23, s. 16; 1999, c. 5, s. 21, c. 25, s. 8(Preamble); 2001, c. 32, s. 37, c. 41, ss. 19, 133; 2008, c. 6, s. 37; 2009, c. 22, s. 17, c. 29, s. 2; 2010, c. 20, s. 1; 2012, c. 1, s. 32; 2014, c. 17, s. 14; 2015, c. 13, s. 20; 2018, c. 16, s. 218; 2019, c. 25, s. 225; 2021, c. 27, s. 4; 2022, c. 17, s. 32(E); 2023, c. 7, s. 1.
[annotation(s) added]

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 515(4)

Firearms Prohibition

Under s. 515(4.1), the court shall order a firearm prohibition on persons released for certain charges including:

  • offences where violence is used, threatened, or attempted
  • criminal harassment
  • intimidation of a justice system participant
  • terrorism offences
  • certain firearms offences
  • certain CDSA offences
  • certain offences under Security of Information Act

Where the judge refuses to do so he must give reasons.(s. 515(4.12))

Contact

The court may order that that there be no contact with named individuals, if a person is ordered detained (s.515(12)) or remanded (s.516(2)). Note that these orders are not stand-alone orders and only last up until the next court appearance. Thus, it must be renewed at each time the matter is in court.[2]

The purpose of "no contact" conditions prior to trial is to balance the right of the accused to be in the community and the right of the complainant or witnesses to privacy and safety.[3]

  1. R v Hill (1989), 9 WCB (2d) 3 (ONCJ)(*no CanLII links) , per Greco J
  2. R v Brown, 2000 NSCA 147 (CanLII), 151 CCC (3d) 85, per Roscoe JA - re 515(12) orders
    R v Kalashnikoff, 2004 CanLII 20454 (ONSC), , [2004] OJ No 113 (ONSC), per Pierce J - re 516(2) orders
    see also Imprisonment#No Contact Orders while in Prison
  3. R v JF, [2001] O.J. No. 2054 (Ont. SCJ)(*no CanLII links) , per Hill J
    R v Lofstrom, 2016 ABPC 197 (CanLII), 39 Alta LR (6th) 367, per Saccomani J, at para 92 ("the imposition of a “no contact” provision in a court order is intended to strike a balance by allowing an accused person to be in the community pending trial while providing complainant(s) with some measure of protection and reasonable assurance that their privacy and individual security concerns are not at risk.")

"Other Reasonable Conditions"

Section 515(4)(f) permits the court to impose “other reasonable conditions”.

The condition must relate "to a purpose which would otherwise justify the accused's pre-trial detention." which means they must relate to ensuring attendance in court, to the protection or safety of the public or to maintaining confidence in the administration of justice.[1]

Where the offence involves the use of alcohol or the accused has a history of committing offences while intoxicated and there is a risk that further offences may be committed due to substance abuse, a condition requiring the accused to abstain from alcohol or intoxicating substances should be imposed.[2] However, there is some suggestion that an alcoholic should not be put on unreasonable conditions to abstain entirely from alcohol.[3]

  1. R v Keenan, 1979 ABCA 278 (CanLII), 12 CR (3d) 135, per Lamer JA
    R v Merasty, 2008 SKPC 28 (CanLII), 313 Sask R 157, per Kalenith J
  2. R v Peddle, [2001] O.J. No.2116 (S.C.)(*no CanLII links) , at para 12
  3. Runciman and Baker, "Final report on the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs" (June 2017), at p. 6

Mandatory Conditions for Certain Offences

515
[omitted (1), (2), (2.01), (2.02), (2.03), (2.1), (2.2), (2.3), (3) and (4)]

Condition prohibiting possession of firearms, etc.

(4.1) When making an order under subsection (2) [release order with conditions], in the case of an accused who is charged with

(a) an offence in the commission of which violence against a person was used, threatened or attempted,
(a.1) a terrorism offence,
(b) an offence under section 264 (criminal harassment),
(b.1) an offence under section 423.1 (intimidation of a justice system participant),
(b.11) an offence under subsection 423.2(1) (intimidation — health services),
(b.2) an offence relating to the contravention of any of sections 9 to 14 of the Cannabis Act,
(c) an offence relating to the contravention of any of sections 5 to 7 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act,
(d) an offence that involves, or the subject-matter of which is, a firearm, a cross-bow, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance, or
(e) an offence under subsection 20(1) of the Security of Information Act, or an offence under subsection 21(1) or 22(1) or section 23 of that Act that is committed in relation to an offence under subsection 20(1) of that Act,

the justice shall add to the order a condition prohibiting the accused from possessing a firearm, cross-bow, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or explosive substance, or all those things, until the accused is dealt with according to law unless the justice considers that such a condition is not required in the interests of the safety of the accused or the safety and security of a victim of the offence or of any other person.

Surrender, etc.

(4.11) Where the justice adds a condition described in subsection (4.1) [condition prohibiting possession of firearms, etc.] to an order made under subsection (2) [release order with conditions], the justice shall specify in the order the manner and method by which

(a) the things referred to in subsection (4.1) [condition prohibiting possession of firearms, etc.] that are in the possession of the accused shall be surrendered, disposed of, detained, stored or dealt with; and
(b) the authorizations, licences and registration certificates held by the person shall be surrendered.
Reasons

(4.12) Where the justice does not add a condition described in subsection (4.1) [condition prohibiting possession of firearms, etc.] to an order made under subsection (2) [release order with conditions], the justice shall include in the record a statement of the reasons for not adding the condition.
[omitted (4.2), (4.3), (5), (6), (6.1), (7), (8), (9), (9.1), (10), (11), (12), (13) and (14)]

R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 515; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), ss. 83, 186; 1991, c. 40, s. 31; 1993, c. 45, s. 8; 1994, c. 44, s. 44; 1995, c. 39, s. 153; 1996, c. 19, ss. 71, 93.3; 1997, c. 18, s. 59, c. 23, s. 16; 1999, c. 5, s. 21, c. 25, s. 8(Preamble); 2001, c. 32, s. 37, c. 41, ss. 19, 133; 2008, c. 6, s. 37; 2009, c. 22, s. 17, c. 29, s. 2; 2010, c. 20, s. 1; 2012, c. 1, s. 32; 2014, c. 17, s. 14; 2015, c. 13, s. 20; 2018, c. 16, s. 218; 2019, c. 25, s. 225; 2021, c. 27, s. 4; 2022, c. 17, s. 32(E); 2023, c. 7, s. 1.

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 515(4.1), (4.11) and (4.12)

Conditions on Terrorism-type Offences

515
[omitted (1), (2), (2.01), (2.02), (2.03), (2.1), (2.2), (2.3), (3), (4), (4.1), (4.11) and (4.12)]

Additional conditions

(4.2) Before making an order under subsection (2) [release order with conditions], in the case of an accused who is charged with an offence referred to in subsection (4.3) [additional conditions re protecting victims or witnesses – eligible offences], the justice shall consider whether it is desirable, in the interests of the safety and security of any person, particularly a victim of or witness to the offence or a justice system participant, to include as a condition of the order

(a) that the accused abstain from communicating, directly or indirectly, with any victim, witness or other person identified in the order, except in accordance with any specified conditions that the justice considers necessary;
(a.1) that the accused abstain from going to any place or entering any geographic area specified in the order, except in accordance with any specified conditions that the justice considers necessary;
(a.2) that the accused wear an electronic monitoring device, if the Attorney General makes the request; or
(b) that the accused comply with any other condition specified in the order that the justice considers necessary to ensure the safety and security of those persons.
Offences

(4.3) The offences for the purposes of subsection (4.2) [additional conditions re protecting victims or witnesses] are

(a) a terrorism offence;
(b) an offence described in section 264 [criminal harassment] or 423.1 [intimidation of justice system participant] or subsection 423.2(1) [intimidation – health services – offence];
(c) an offence in the commission of which violence against a person was used, threatened or attempted, including against the accused’s intimate partner; and
(d) an offence under subsection 20(1) of the Security of Information Act, or an offence under subsection 21(1) or 22(1) or section 23 of that Act that is committed in relation to an offence under subsection 20(1) of that Act.

[omitted (5), (6), (6.1), (7), (8), (9), (9.1), (10), (11), (12), (13) and (14)]
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 515; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), ss. 83, 186; 1991, c. 40, s. 31; 1993, c. 45, s. 8; 1994, c. 44, s. 44; 1995, c. 39, s. 153; 1996, c. 19, ss. 71, 93.3; 1997, c. 18, s. 59, c. 23, s. 16; 1999, c. 5, s. 21, c. 25, s. 8(Preamble); 2001, c. 32, s. 37, c. 41, ss. 19, 133; 2008, c. 6, s. 37; 2009, c. 22, s. 17, c. 29, s. 2; 2010, c. 20, s. 1; 2012, c. 1, s. 32; 2014, c. 17, s. 14; 2015, c. 13, s. 20; 2018, c. 16, s. 218; 2019, c. 25, s. 225; 2021, c. 27, s. 4; 2022, c. 17, s. 32(E); 2023, c. 7, s. 1.
[annotation(s) added]

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 515(4.2) and (4.3)

Variation and Review of Conditions

The terms of a release order can be varied according to s. 523(2) of the Code:

523
[omitted (1), (1.1) and (1.2)]

Order vacating previous order for release or detention

(2) Notwithstanding subsections (1) [duration that release conditions apply on replacement information] and (1.1) [consequences on new information is received],

(a) the court, judge or justice before which or whom an accused is being tried, at any time,
(b) the justice, on completion of the preliminary inquiry in relation to an offence for which an accused is ordered to stand trial, other than an offence listed in section 469 [exclusive jurisdiction offences], or
(c) with the consent of the prosecutor and the accused or, where the accused or the prosecutor applies to vacate an order that would otherwise apply pursuant to subsection (1.1) [consequences on new information is received], without such consent, at any time
(i) where the accused is charged with an offence other than an offence listed in section 469 [exclusive jurisdiction offences], the justice by whom an order was made under this Part or any other justice,
(ii) where the accused is charged with an offence listed in section 469 [exclusive jurisdiction offences], a judge of or a judge presiding in a superior court of criminal jurisdiction for the province, or
(iii) the court, judge or justice before which or whom an accused is to be tried,

may, on cause being shown, vacate any order previously made under this Part for the interim release or detention of the accused and make any other order provided for in this Part for the detention or release of the accused until his trial is completed that the court, judge or justice considers to be warranted.

Provisions applicable to proceedings under subsection (2)

(3) The provisions of sections 517 [Order directing matters not to be published for specified period], 518 [Inquiries to be made by justice and evidence] and 519 [release of accused after show cause hearing] apply, with such modifications as the circumstances require, in respect of any proceedings under subsection (2) [power to vacate previous orders], except that subsection 518(2) [release on guilty plea pending sentence] does not apply in respect of an accused who is charged with an offence listed in section 469 [exclusive jurisdiction offences].
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 523; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 89; 2011, c. 16, s. 2; 2019, c. 25, s. 233.
[annotation(s) added]

CCC (CanLII), (DOJ)


Note up: 523(2) and (3)

This section has been interpreted by most courts as meaning that a provincial court judge cannot vary the conditions on demand without the consent of the crown.[1] A Superior Court judge, however, will have jurisdiction to change conditions on application.

See also 520, 521, 522, 524, 525.

  1. R v Mukpo, 2012 NSSC 107 (CanLII), 994 APR 285, per Rosinski J
    R v Arkison, [1996] BCJ No. 2549(*no CanLII links)
    R v Hill, 2005 NSPC 50 (CanLII), 760 APR 153, per Ross J
    cf. R v Greener, 2003 NSPC 58 (CanLII), 694 APR 9, per WD MacDonald J

See Also