Breach of probation and failure to comply with a release order are relatively common charges related to a failure to comply with the conditions of a court-ordered undertaking, appearance notice, recognizance or release order.

No breach-related charge should be underestimated, The Alberta courts take them very seriously because they indicate a reluctance to follow the instructions of the court and observe the justice process—a serious offence in its own right.


If you breach a court order, you have already been accused of committing another offense and so the chances of leniency for a second potential offense are slim.

The consequences for your future if convicted can be a lifelong criminal record, fines, and even jail time.

Failure to comply with a release order

If you are charged with a relatively minor criminal offense in Calgary, you may receive a release order from law enforcement. This means that you will be released from custody pending bail and your release will be subject to conditions.

The trend is for these conditions to be increasingly strict, prohibiting you from taking certain actions, seeing certain people, and being in certain places.

Failure to abide by these conditions when released can see you arrested and back in front of a judge. You may be charged with a failure to comply and held in jail until the original charges against you (and/or the new ones) have been settled.

The outcome is dependent on many factors but a major consideration will be your past criminal record and what your breach entailed. The more likely it is that you will re-offend or fail to follow the conditions, the less likely it is that you will be released.

Breach of probation order

A breach of probation order is similar to a failure to comply with a release order in that specific conditions are attached to the order.

The main difference is that a probation order is issued by the courts as part of a sentence and is intended to rehabilitate the individual.

A series of stringent conditions may be attached to the probation order, generally lasting for the entire term of probation. These may include the following, for example:

  • No contact with the victim involved in your case
  • No contact with a witness
  • No possession or consumption of alcohol
  • No possession of weapons
  • Abiding by a curfew
  • Not to travel outside of Alberta
  • Not to attend a certain residence
  • Mandatory treatment or counselling
  • Driving prohibition

During the probation period, the individual is supervised by a probation officer, who is responsible for ensuring that the conditions of the order are met.

Any violation of the conditions may be reported back to the court and lead to re-arrest, new criminal charges, and being held in custody until bail is awarded or the charges are resolved. A fine or jail time may be imposed and a conviction will be registered on your criminal record.

Defences for breach charges

With highly restrictive conditions often imposed for probation, such as house arrest or curfew, it can be extremely challenging for individuals to abide by the conditions imposed on them.

Sometimes, we can apply to the court to have the most stringent conditions amended to be more flexible or remove them altogether.

If you are the subject of a breach charge, we may be able to help you challenge it. An experienced criminal defence lawyer like Cory Wilson can often identify lawful justifications for a breach, present a compelling case to the judge, and mitigate the consequences for you.

Sometimes, our experience in the criminal justice system in Calgary allows us to negotiate with the prosecution and avoid an additional breach charge, arrange a conditional discharge or attain a not-guilty verdict.

When can my breach charges be withdrawn?

Breach charges may be withdrawn if you are eligible for the Alternative Measures Program (AMP) and complete the AMP conditions.

Under this program, you accept responsibility for your actions without being found guilty of anything. Importantly, this can help you avoid a criminal record for the offence.

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To speak with Cory Wilson or arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with Wilson Criminal Defence, call 403-978-6052 or email us here.

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