In many cases after an arrest, an accused will be released on a Form 10 Undertaking, or a Form 11 Release Order. If a person is released on a Form 10 Undertaking, they will be released from police custody without the need for a hearing. Other times, however, the accused will be held in custody after arrest and can only be released from jail following a successful bail hearing. If the accused is released on bail, their conditions will be contained in a Form 11 Release Order issued by a Justice in court.

Individuals are often held for bail in more serious cases and/or when they have lengthy criminal records. Occasionally, in order to be released on bail, friends or family members may be required to act as supervisors (i.e. sureties) for the accused.

Both forms of release, whether a Form 10 Undertaking or a Form 11 Release Order, will come with conditions that the accused must follow. These can be creatively drafted based on the circumstances of the offence and the offender. The conditions can include anything from an order to not have any contact with witnesses or victims of the offence to the restriction of one’s usage of electronic devices. Under Section 515(4) of the Criminal Code, some charges have mandatory conditions; other conditions will be placed upon the accused if they are deemed reasonable.

Often, an accused will find their conditions to be inconvenient and burdensome. An accused person will often promise to follow their conditions at the time of release, and then find it quite difficult to live with them. So, how can release order conditions be altered?


A bail variation application is a recognized method of requesting the courts to change an accused individual’s conditions under a Form 11 Release Order. The proposed variation is submitted to the Crown Attorney and the Court for consideration by the accused individual and their counsel. If there are sureties involved, their consent will also be required to vary the bail conditions.

In cases where the accused person wants to vary the conditions of a Form 10 Undertaking, they only require the approval of a Crown attorney for those variations to be made.

Section 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms establishes one of the most well-known legal doctrines: an accused individual is guaranteed the right to be presumed innocent until they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In spite of this provision, the court is within their rights to detain an accused individual or release them on stringent conditions prior to any findings of guilt.[1] This represents a tremendous imposition on an individual’s right to liberty.

Under Section 515(10) of the Criminal Code, the detention of an accused can be justified on multiple grounds, such as where it is necessary to ensure court appearances, where it is vital to maintain the public’s confidence in the justice system, and where it is required to protect the safety of the public. In order to help accused individuals alter their release order conditions, you or your lawyer will need to refer to these criteria to explain why the proposed variations are appropriate. For example, it must be argued that the proposed variations will not bring the administration of justice into disrepute and will not put the public at risk. A condition for an accused person to not use cell phones or computers in a case which does not substantially involve technology, for instance, might be considered overly onerous and will not put the public at risk if it is formally varied. For the best success, an accused individual must present the Crown with a reasonable variation which is supported by the context of the accused individual’s circumstances.

In the event the Crown does not agree to change an accused individual’s conditions, the accused individual might consider applying for a bail review before a Superior Court judge.[2] This is, however, a much more involved, difficult, and expensive process in comparison to a variation. It is unlikely that this type of review would be successful in the absence of a significant material change in the accused’s circumstances since the initial bail conditions were drafted.

Variation in the Context of Domestic Assault

No contact orders are one of the most common conditions to be imposed in cases which involve domestic violence. The Crown takes domestic assault charges very seriously, and is often reluctant to withdraw charges unless they have a very weak case.[3] A no contact order can present great difficulty for an accused individual and a complainant if they are in a relationship and want to reconcile. When faced with the length of time the criminal matter may take to resolve, an accused individual and a complainant may want to have a lawyer draft a variation request to alter the release order conditions as soon as possible.

It is important to understand that when criminal charges are laid, there are no quick remedies. Getting release order conditions varied takes time, and the Crown might only consent to variations if they are satisfied that the complainant is comfortable with the variation or if there is no previous history of domestic violence.

It is also important to recognize that a “failure to comply with a release order” charge can carry serious consequences, and this offence is one of the most common charges seen in the Canadian criminal justice system. A breach of an undertaking or a bail order can result in a new criminal charge, which usually protracts the difficulty facing an accused individual. An accused must avoid doing anything that would represent a breach of their conditions until they have been properly varied. In the context of a no contact order, an accused individual must refrain from making direct or indirect contact with a complainant, which can include talking in-person, texting, or even relaying messages using a third party.

Taking the next step

The right to bail is considered an extension of the presumption of innocence; likewise, if an accused is truly presumed to be innocent, then they should not have to face burdensome release order conditions. Lakin Afolabi PC has over 10 years of experience in assisting individuals requesting to vary their release order conditions, and our office has successfully done so for hundreds of clients. Allow us to step in and formulate a comprehensive approach to your case. Our office takes a human approach to law, and we understand that people sometimes find themselves in difficult situations. Take the next step and book a consultation with one of our lawyers today.

[1] R. v. Pearson [1992] 3 SCR 665 <>