What is bail and how does it work?
If you are arrested, you may be eligible to apply for bail. Bail releases you from custody while you wait for the charges to be dealt with. It is a written promise that is signed, guaranteeing you will appear in court on the date written on that undertaking.
Often, there are further conditions that must be made, known as bail conditions. This can include checking in with a police station on certain days of the week, providing financial conditions where you must find a person who can guarantee the bail money or has sufficient assets, or residing at an address and not moving without permission from the court or police.
What’s important to note is that when released on bail, you cannot commit any additional offences during this period. If you do commit another criminal offence while on bail, you may have your bail revoked or have tighter conditions placed on your bail.
What are the different types of bail?
Watch house bail:
If you are arrested, you may be granted watch house bail by the police, stating you will attend court on a certain date and satisfy any bail conditions set. Until your court date, you are able to remain in the community, where you may apply to have your bail enlarged or varied.
If the police have refused to give you watch house bail, you can apply to the court whilst still in custody.
If an offence is adjourned to another court, you can apply for the court to enlarge your bail to that date and time. This will entitle you to remain in the community while your matter is progressing through the court system and is subject to the same bail conditions.
What is considered by the court when granting or denying bail?
Not everyone is granted bail. In fact, there are certain circumstances where the court will refuse to grant bail if they believe there is a risk the defendant will:
- Fail to appear or surrender into custody
- Commit an offence while released on bail
- Endanger the safety and welfare of members of the community
- Interfere with witnesses or obstruct the course of justice
When considering the suitability of granting bail to a defendant, the court will consider many different factors, including:
- the type and seriousness of the offence you have been charged with
- the strength of evidence against you
- whether you have a place to live
- whether you have a job
- whether you have a criminal record
- whether you have children
- whether you have failed to turn up for other court dates in the past
- whether you are capable of fleeing and whether you are likely to flee
- whether you have someone to provide a surety (a sum of money to the court, which will be forfeited if you breach bail)
- whether the court believes you are a danger to other people
- whether the court believes you will break the law again
- whether the imposition of various conditions will be enough to ensure you do not flee, present a danger to others or commit further offences
- whether you are capable of complying with any conditions imposed
- whether you are in a ‘show cause position’
What is a breach of bail?
If you have beached a condition of your bail, it’s important you seek legal advice urgently, regardless of whether you feel your excuse is a valid one or not. A beach of the bail conditions means you’ve failed to comply with what was asked of you, giving the Court a fuller picture of your behaviour and conduct whilst criminal proceedings were in progress.
A breach of bail conditions, or failing to show up to court on the required date will result in your bail being revoked, or potentially a warrant for your arrest.
The maximum penalty for a breach of bail in Queensland is 40 penalty units ($100 = 1 penalty unit) or 2 years imprisonment. For first-time offenders, you can expect to receive the fine without a conviction recorded.
As well as this, depending on what you’ve done to breach the conditions on your bail, it could make it quite difficult to be granted bail in the future.
Change conditions of bail
The conditions of your bail application are not set in stone. You can apply to have your bail conditions varied either by the court or the police.
Common variations by the police include where you have been imposed with a residential condition requiring you to reside at a specified address, however you intend to move before your court date. If your conditions can’t be changed by the police, it must be done through an application to the court. The types of variations made by the courts includes requirements such as changing the police station that you report to, or even the days you report.
If you would like to understand more about the conditions of bail, be sure to seek advice from a team of experienced lawyers.