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The SCC to decide standard for bail pending appeal

In one of New Brunswick most high profile criminal cases, Dennis Oland was convicted of second-degree murder in December 2015 of his father Richard Oland. Oland was sentenced to life in prison and no chance of parole for 10 years.

Oland appealed the decision and was denied bail pending his appeal by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal [NBCA] . Oland spent approximately 11 months in custody awaiting his appeal to be heard at the NBCA. Simultaneously, Oland argued leave to the Supreme Court of Canada [SCC] of the NBCA's decision to deny him bail pending appeal.

Oland successfully argued his conviction appeal and the NBCA's decision to order a new trial was released in late October 2016. Oland was therefore released on bail since he was no longer a convicted murderer and can once again benefit from the presumption of innocence.

Practically, the NBCA's decision would therefore render Oland's leave to the SCC moot since the NBCA has already released its decision to order and a new trial and Oland is now out on bail. However, the SCC agreed to hear submissions on the issue of bail pending appeal as it has been interpreted and applied differently throughout the provinces and territories in Canada.

At issue is whether a convicted murder should be granted bail awaiting his appeal. The prosecution argued that an accused loses the benefit of the presumption of innocence and should not be released pending an appeal for such a serious charge. On the other hand, the defense argued that an appellant who has arguable grounds for appeal should have the possibility of being granted bail even for the most serious of charges.

The SCC has reserved its decision. More to come...

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