A recent Bail Hearing decision of the Court of Quebec may substantially affect common practices with respect to bail. In R v. Peter Anoussis , the crown had requested a money deposit of $500 as a condition of release. An amount possibly too onerous for the defendant , Judge Patrick Healy invited the crown to justify the demand.
Judge Healy warned that the practice of requiring money deposits for Bail should be used with caution as it may lead to unfortunate inequity with respect to disadvantaged defendants. In addition, he reminded defence counsel that it is their duty to demand that bail conditions be justified.
From a defence lawyer’s perspective, the sad reality is that many defendants will prefer accepting conditions as proposed by the crown on their arraignment. The alternative is refusing the conditions and spending another day in jail to await bail hearing, where more reasonable conditions may be sought. One more night in detention is definitely unpleasant, but blindly accepting unreasonable conditions in order to be released immediately is by far a greater punishment in the long run. Once accepted, these conditions may be difficult to change and could be maintained for a lengthy period of time.
In my opinion this new decision is likely to facilitate the negociation process between crown and defence counsel for more equitable conditions of release and will serve as an important wake up call ; reminding judges and attorneys that Bail must be reasonable.