What is bail?
Essentially, bail is a written promise to appear in court on a particular date and time. It allows a person to remain in the community until an outcome is reached in their court proceedings. At times, there can be conditions attached to it – for example having to live at a specific address, not contact certain persons or reporting at a police station on certain days.
The presumption of bail:
There are a number of considerations the police and courts need to take into account when considering granting bail to a person. The starting point however, is that every person should receive bail in the first instance. The general exceptions to this principle include if the client is at risk of:
- Committing further offences
- Endangering another person
- Obstructing the course of justice
- Failing to appear in court
There are some specific offences that prevent people from being granted bail in the first instance. These offences include failing to appear in court when required or committing certain offences whilst already on bail. When these situations arise, a person must “show-cause” as to why bail should be granted.
Bail applications generally:
Most applications for bail are initiated in the Magistrates Court. Each client has the opportunity to apply for bail after being charged with an offence and held in custody. If the Magistrate is persuaded to grant bail, a person will be released from custody (with or without conditions), to appear in court on a future date. If, however, a client is refused bail, they are entitled to apply for bail in the Supreme Court before a Supreme Court Justice.
Offences where you cannot apply for bail in the Magistrates Courts:
If a client is charged with an offence where a conviction results in mandatory life imprisonment (i.e. murder), they are not entitled to apply for bail in the Magistrates Court and can only apply to the Supreme Court.
The importance of engaging a lawyer for a bail application:
There are limited opportunities for a client to apply for bail, and therefore it is imperative to engage a lawyer from the beginning. Depending on the type of charge, the court process can be quite lengthy, often several months. Timing and preparation are key to any bail application, and experienced lawyers are in the best position to give both advice and representation in relation to this. For complex matters, we will always discuss the option of briefing an experienced barrister to ensure that the best possible case is put forward for this very significant application.