Sunday, November 4, 2012

Excessive bail conditions

R. v. Thomson, [2004] O.J. No. 1873 (S.C.J.) has a very thoughtful analysis on appropriate terms of release: 

55     The Crown's position was that, if Thomson is released, she should have someone with her at all times to ensure compliance with her release terms. During cross-examination, the Crown established that James Thomson (Thomson's grandfather) does not wish to spend his every waking hour with his granddaughter. Of course he doesn't. Nor should a regime be established that would require him to do so.
56     It is not the object of release conditions to turn family members into jailers. Release conditions must be realistic and workable and should not impose such high personal costs on members of the accused's family that they cannot readily bear them. The goal is to secure the good behaviour and compliance of the accused, not to incarcerate her in her home.
57     What is the justification for preventing Thomson from carrying on with her life as best she can? What is the purpose of placing her in a grey zone of idleness, where she can engage in no efforts to improve herself or contribute to the family finances? Conditions should be tailored to allow Thomson to carry on as normal a life as she can while ensuring the safety of the public and her attendance at court. It would be good for Thomson to find employment or pursue further education or training. Release terms that impede these goals are unnecessary and counter-productive. Therefore, in her release terms, she will be permitted to be outside the home for the purposes of employment or school. As suggested by the Crown, if she does enrol in school or become employed, she will provide the police with the particulars.
58     Similar considerations apply to court attendances. Robert Thomson has a job. Surely he must attend work regularly. It is a serious burden on him to miss work and attend court whenever Thomson is required to be there. I see no risk to the public in Thomson travelling to and from the courthouse by herself.

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