When a person is arrested and charged with a criminal offence, and the circumstances do not warrant keeping the accused in custody, one of several types of releases may be granted. The type of release will depend on the nature of the charge, the circumstances surrounding the charge and the history of the accused person.
The types of releases are as follows:
1. Appearance notice;
2. Promise to appear; or
3. Recognizance of bail.
Where either a promise to appear or a recognizance of bail is ordered, conditions may be placed on the accused person. These conditions may involve limitations on who the accused can associate with, limits on the ability to move about without supervision, or other conditions deemed necessary by the Court to ensure that future offences do not occur.
Any breach of one of these conditions could lead to an additional charge of failing to comply with the recognizance (or undertaking). In order to prove the charge, the Crown would have to prove that the accused person is the same person who was originally placed on the recognizance, that the recognizance was still in effect at the time of the alleged breach, and that the accused intentionally committed the breach in question.
Upon conviction, the accused is subject to a custodial sentence of 6 months if the Crown is proceeding by summary conviction or to a custodial sentence of 2 years if the Crown is proceeding by way of indictment.
Upon being charged with failing to comply with a recognizance, the Crown may seek to have the original form of release cancelled. This only requires reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the breach occurred. It could result in either a new, and potentially more restrictive, released being ordered, or the Court may require the accused person to be detained in custody pending the determination of the case.