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Police and Court Bail

Author: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 16 July 2014 |
 
Bail Court Police Charge Criminal

If a police investigation is ongoing into alleged criminal activity, you may be bailed to return to the police station on a future date. Once you have been charged with a criminal offence, the police are required to release you on bail unless one of the following applies:

  • the police have doubts about your identity or address, or
  • you need to be detained for your own, or someone else’s, protection
  • there are concerns that you will fail to attend court, or interfere with the administration of justice (e.g. by contacting witnesses)

Bail Offences

If you are released on police bail and do not return on the date and at the time required, you may be charged with a separate criminal offence. This is called ‘failure to surrender’ and whilst you may not think that the actual penalty given for this offence is particularly serious, it does count as a ‘breach of trust’. Breaches of trust on a person’s criminal record may affect your ability to get bail if you are ever charged with an offence in the future.

Bail Conditions

Your bail from the police station may be conditional or unconditional. If there are conditions attached to your bail, you may for example be told that you have to reside at a specific address, report to a local police station, stay inside your house at certain hours of the day, not contact certain people or go to certain places, or provide a surety (a sum of money that you may lose if you fail to attend court.) You may also be told to surrender your passport.

If you breach any of these conditions, you may be arrested and brought before the magistrates court. You may be charged under the Bail Act 1976 and could also be remanded in custody until your trial.

While on police bail you can apply at the magistrates court to vary the conditions of the bail, although there is no guarantee that the court will allow such variations.

Court Bail

Once you appear before the magistrates court, you can apply to vary your conditions. If you have been remanded in police custody, you can apply for bail at your hearing before the magistrates court. The court may grant you bail, may allow you bail with conditions, or refuse bail and remand you in custody.

If you have not been convicted of any offence, you have a right to be granted bail unless certain exceptions apply. If the court thinks that you are likely to fail to attend court, interfere with witnesses or may commit further offences you will not be given bail. In determining whether any of these factors apply to you, the court will consider the nature and seriousness of the offence that you have been charged with, the strength of the evidence against you, your personal circumstances and community ties, any previous convictions and in particular any breaches of trust (such as failure to answer bail), as well as whether you have any other outstanding charges or are currently serving any other sentence.

Sureties

If the court decides that it is appropriate it can attach certain conditions to your bail so as to ensure, as far as possible that you return when you are supposed to. If you are asked to provide a surety, this is a sum of money – which you or someone else puts up on your behalf – that may have to be forfeit if you fail to surrender to bail. There is no need to pay this money to the court when you get bail, but you have to show that it is available if needed.

Re-Applying For Bail

You have two chances to apply for bail at the magistrates court, or if there is a change in your circumstances. If this fails, you can apply for bail again at the crown court, known as ‘judge in chambers.’ You can also go to the High Court but this is rare.

If you do not get bail, there are limits on the amount of time you can spend in custody without the prosecution having to apply for an extension. These are:

  • Magistrates court trials -56 days
  • Crown court committals – 70 days
  • Crown court committal to trial – 112 days

Any extension must be fully justified by the prosecution in order to be granted by the court. You can find out more about what happens the first time you appear in court here.

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My nephew is due for a plea hearing on monday he has applied for bail, will he find out about the bail before monday or will he have to wait till monday to find out
Nic nac - 16-Jul-14 @ 5:13 PM
Hi there, have been charged by the police 9 months Ago! When they charged me they toldme that I will appear in court within 2 months and a letter with details will be sent to you! 9 months Now I still haven't heard any news or letter from them. What should I do?
tani - 16-Jul-14 @ 2:40 PM
Hi, someone I'm close to has been arrested for carrying! He was took the police station and had to stay for the weekend however got took in on Saturday? For many personal reasons I don't know or won't know what is happening with them! Will he be released on bail or will he have a court case and then sent down? I'm so confused and need answers as its now Monday night and I still haven't heard from them, thanks
Mezzagold2 - 14-Jul-14 @ 11:21 PM
ive been bailed from a magistrates court on tag and now need accommodation what can i do?
dee - 15-Jun-14 @ 1:30 PM
Hi my partner is currently going up on charges and has just added another one to the bunch and his bail has been apposed until his court date I have been informed that he has put down my address as bail and it has been accepted but we are not to associate so do I have to move
nikki - 29-May-14 @ 3:17 AM
my father in law was bailed for 4 weeks then has given 2 weeks does this mean they have more evidence on him ?
sam - 23-Apr-14 @ 1:59 PM
Hi I was given police bail for as yet un charged offence. the conditions of bail were to attend every weds and not to make contact with the guy who called the police. that's fine. but I live here in spain my work is here my home is here as is my wife who would not have been able to manage the house in my absents! I have no finances in the uk and would not of been able to stay there. I explained this to the police on my first visit but was just fobbed off with a NO. so I left and returned to spain. now my surrender date is on the 9th I intend to return (although flight times make it impossible to get there on time) will I be arrested at the airport or will I have to hand myself in?
bigste - 3-Sep-13 @ 12:54 PM
my boyfriend has been on licsense and recalls to prison I was wondering if there is any chance of him getting high court bail or any sort of way to get out of prison at all ?
Debra - 1-Aug-13 @ 2:41 PM
Hi, I'm a italian lawyer, I'd need to kwon if and how, in England, the court deducts the days that a person spent on bail with condictions (report to police station three times a week; curfew for 12 hours obbligation to live at a specific address) Thansk in advance
topica - 23-Mar-13 @ 3:23 PM
bail is aconstitutional right and every person accussed of acriminal offence has aright to bai however the right is not absolute and it can be denied by court incases which require acapital panishement or anyother cases as court considers it fit
shan - 12-Mar-13 @ 8:22 AM
Part of my conditional bail is i have to be home at 6 for curfew i want to make my curfew later is this possible
zak - 30-Jan-13 @ 10:48 PM
Will I get bail even tho I have a previous conviction and am on licence .
Oddi - 18-Oct-12 @ 10:21 AM
I have been bailed back to a police station 4 times now,without charge
corkie - 31-Jul-12 @ 7:38 PM
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