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Applying for Bail in Queensland

What is Bail?

Bail can be a complex topic that is often misunderstood by the general public. At its core, bail is a written promise to attend at Court in relation to any criminal and/or traffic charges that are ongoing. It essentially allows an accused person to remain in the community while awaiting an outcome of their matter. 

In addition to this signed promise to attend at Court when required, there are circumstances where other other conditions are set. Some common examples of this include:

  • A reporting condition.
  • A residential condition.
  • A curfew condition.

The rules of bail are contained in the Bail Act 1980.

Types of Bail 

Firstly, it is important to note that there are two general types of bail:  

Watchhouse Bail

If you are arrested and charged with an offence, the Police may grant you what is called ‘Watchhouse Bail’. This is when Police release an accused person following their arrest and after the person has signed a bail undertaking. 

The person must attend Court on the date stated on the bail undertaking and comply with any other conditions that are set out in the undertaking.

Court Bail

If the Police decide to not grant an accused person watchhouse bail, they may then apply to the Court to grant bail. There, the Court will consider the circumstances and make a decision as to whether to allow the person to remain in the community while the matters proceed. 

What are the Considerations in Granting of Bail?

Section 16 of the Bail Act QLD outlines what the Court must consider in making a decision to grant an accused person bail. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Whether the accused is an unacceptable risk of failing to appear at future Court dates.
  • Whether the accused is an unacceptable risk of committing an offence or endangering the safety or welfare of a person.
  • Whether the accused is an unacceptable risk of interfering with witnesses or otherwise obstructing the course of justice.
  • The seriousness of the alleged offending and any defence that could be put forward. 
  • The strength of the evidence and Crown case. 
  • The criminal history and character of the accused. 
  • The personal circumstances of the accused (for example, whether he/she has a place to live, has a job or has children. 

What are Bail Conditions?

The Court or police officer who grants an accused person bail may include specific conditions that they may feel is appropriate to ensure that any risks of a defendant being released into the community are adequately addressed. 

This can include reporting to the police station on particular days, having to live at a certain address, abiding by a curfew, not contacting certain people and refraining from consuming drugs and/or alcohol. 

Beyond this, the Magistrate or Judge may require a “surety” which is an agreement to forfeit a sum of money or property if the defendant does not show up to Court when required; or alternatively abide by other conditions. 

Changing Bail Conditions

If a person wishes to have their bail conditions altered, they will typically have to make a bail variation application before the Court which granted the bail initially. There, it must be explained why the conditions should be changed. 

There are times when the police or the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) can grant a bail variation. This typically includes a change of address or altering the days the defendant reports to the police station. If this is refused, the bail variation application can then be brought before the Court for the Magistrate or Judge to make a determination. 

Applying for Bail in the Supreme Court 

If a person is refused bail by a Magistrate, they may apply for bail in the Supreme Court. It should also be noted that as per s 13 of the Bail Act, the Supreme Court is the only jurisdiction that may grant bail to persons charged with offences under the Criminal Code Act 1899 (QLD) that carry sentences of mandatory life imprisonment upon conviction (for example, murder). 

Upon a refusal of bail in the Magistrates Court, the Supreme Court will decide the application afresh without influence from the decision by the Magistrate. Listing a Supreme Court Bail Application can be complex and intricate, and legal advice should be sought immediately should an accused wish to proceed in that manner 

Bottom Line

Ultimately, there are limited opportunities for a person to apply for bail. At McConnell and Saldumbide Criminal Lawyers, we understand that the ability to remain in the community while awaiting an outcome is extremely important. Depending on the nature of the offence, the Court process can be quite lengthy. 

For complex matters, we will always discuss the option of briefing a barrister to ensure that the best possible case is put forward for this significant application. 

Contact our office today to arrange a free initial consultation.

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