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Police and Court Bail

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 6 Mar 2020 |
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. From April 2017, the maximum limit a person can spend on bail is 28 days. An extension of up to three months may be granted by a senior officer. For any further extension, an application will need to be made to a magistrate.


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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[Add a Comment]
What happends is you fail to serender court. 20 years ago and didn't pay any outstanding fins. I am living in a other country but I want to go back to the UK to visit family but I have children and I don't want to get stopt when I come into the UK. Is it still active do I get arrested??
Ml - 6-Mar-20 @ 10:06 AM
When will bail conditions be lifted when imposed by court
Jjcc - 11-Feb-20 @ 9:09 PM
If I'm on bail and I have a curfew and I'm 7 min late do I get breached
Ace - 6-Feb-20 @ 3:16 AM
Hi by boyfriend is on court bail and he signs on everyday at a certain time... but he didnt sign on yesterday and im worried what can happen as a result of this?
Florence - 31-Dec-19 @ 10:33 AM
I’m on court bail and sign once a week. I’ve only just realised that today is my signing day and I’ve missed it. What is likely to happen as a result of this?
Lee - 27-Dec-19 @ 11:24 PM
I got court bail for a section 38 conditions are cant see my partner but we have 7 kids she has told police she doesn't want to go ahead with the case she wants me home with her and the kids what can we do
Dounut - 13-Dec-19 @ 8:32 AM
Can anyone help me my boyfriends been in a police chase because of having no license and insurance what will happen next
FutureWaters - 2-Dec-19 @ 2:19 PM
My boyfriend raped me and abused me. I reported him to the police, when he was in custody, the police were doing medical examination on me when I found out I'm pregnant. He doesnt even know, next week I'm having my first scan, but tomorrow I will meet with my special trained officer and I will ask her to help me to get him to the hospital with me. I miss him so much, I think i will ask them to drop charges.
Mia996 - 30-Nov-19 @ 11:21 PM
my boyfriendrapes me hes been charged and is out on bail , im not angry with him im hirting like mad because i love amd miss him so mich and i dont know what too do
lilly - 26-Nov-19 @ 12:44 AM
Hi me and my bf has an argument he pushed me the police got called he got took away and put up to court he’s not aloud to contact me or come near me I’m just wondering if there’s anyway to get these bail conditions dropped as it has never happened before and was just in the heat of the moment and is not a threat to me my minds just going crazy as I don’t know if he’s okay.
Xxxxxxxxxxxxx - 21-Nov-19 @ 12:58 PM
My be has been bailed until 11Dec but we ha e a getaway booked and paid for 10-15 Dec, can he get his bail dateschange.
Boo - 21-Nov-19 @ 12:25 PM
Hi, my bf has been bailed without charge until 11 Dec but our children have booked us a getaway abroad for our Christmas present 10-15 Dec, can he get the dates of his bail changed?
Boo - 21-Nov-19 @ 12:22 PM
Am on bail for batterytorturekid nap and gbh am back with my wife aliving together but they are still ringing and texting what can I do
Johnboy - 3-Nov-19 @ 6:48 AM
My bf was arrested last week for hitting me. This is the only time it's happened. He's now on bail till the 20th Nov and is it allowed to contact me. We both still love each other and I want to contact him. However will I get in trouble and will I make it worse if I call him
Confused - 26-Oct-19 @ 11:20 PM
Here’s one for you got arrested, bailed to appear 28 days later, this got extended to 3 months, the day before I was due at a bail back my ex made further allegations, arrested again realeased on bail again, told not to go for my bail back date and to go to the police station 2 weeks later went last night and nobody was aware of any bail back for me, seems like they have messed completely up
Innocent - 22-Oct-19 @ 1:32 PM
Well I answered my bail on 24th September and now re bailed till 24th November and police still haven't seen my alibis I gave. I'm on a curfew. There's no cctv. My phone tracking will prove I wasn't where they said I was either. I find this a joke. The girl in question is still able to walk around freely and have a laugh etc. I've done nothing wrong and this allegation has now cost me my job and it's unfair cos she can get away with it and I'm being punished. This page I see doesn't give answers but I'm at my witts and with it all
Mr innocent - 15-Oct-19 @ 10:48 PM
Hi. Me and my girlfriend had an argument when on a night out and I pushed her (never have we being like this) I got arrest and she didn’t press chargers and has told them she won’t give a statement, there is cctv evidence and I have bail conditions not to see my girlfriend. We haven’t split up and we are both trying to stop this, I had a bail of 2 weeks and the case went to cps. What do you think would happen with this? Always what happens when you show up for bail? Do they re-arrests you? I’ve never had a run in with the law so I haven’t a clue what will happen. Thank you
Ant - 15-Oct-19 @ 7:05 PM
My fiancee was arrested for pushing me and various other past pushing. He has been told as a Conditon 0f bail that he must stay at his mums and not allowed to communicate with me or come near our home which is also our workplace and we are employed as a couple. We love each other and have to work together as I can't do it alone. I also hit him and I never changed him I just needed to scare him that it isn't right. I am trying to get his conditions dropped as currently it is 3 weeks til a hearing and I can't and will not cope. We haventsplit up and we have a holiday booked for a couple of weeks time. He has hired a solititor... Is it possible this can be sorted ASAP?
Ellie - 21-Sep-19 @ 3:48 PM
Can you get bail conditions dropped and how long does it take, I want to get them dropped as I'm carrying my boyfriends child but he ain't allowed near me or my house and he never actually did anything and we need to be together for our child
Megz - 18-Sep-19 @ 8:11 PM
Hi I’ve never been arrested before, or in any trouble at all, so I’m really confused, as to what happens when I answer bail? If they charge me, will they re-arrest me, put me in a cell & question me again? Or will i just be given a court date ?
Kel - 11-Sep-19 @ 10:03 AM
Hi. I am on police bail for a girl accusing me of stalking and intimidation. She is a known liar and she has given dates as to which I have alibis for. The police have still not come to see my alibis and I have2 weeks left before I answer bail again at police station. Does this mean I will get re bailed as I'm on a curfew now which is ridiculous as she's still out there laughing and joking and I'm being punished for something I haven't done
Mr innocent - 6-Sep-19 @ 11:38 PM
Hi I’m on bail and can not speak to my ex partner until the trial. Can I call my 3 year old daughters phone to speak to my daughter or would this be a breach?
Mikeymike - 5-Sep-19 @ 5:00 PM
Is answering bail outside normal office hrs (9-5),mine is at 2000hrs. Its concerning me
Brian - 3-Sep-19 @ 9:35 PM
Is there a way of finding out if someone is on bail?
Vicky - 1-Sep-19 @ 7:42 PM
Hi, my dads court date is on the 18th and he isn’t allowed to make any contact with me or my mum and isn’t aloud near the house if he does then will go to prison til his court date, I wondered if I was aloud to go to court with him and my nan , wasn’t sure as it said until his court date so didn’t know if it included that
Rosey2004 - 29-Aug-19 @ 6:16 PM
If someone is bailed to my adress and then they leave can I get in trouble for that
N - 29-Aug-19 @ 1:35 PM
Hi what happens if the police dont have enough evidence to charge you and want to bail you nocharge but pre conditions.Can you refuse to sign the bail form?. Can you say either charge me now or release me i am not signing any acceptance of these conditions i dont agree with them. How would you stand? Because the police can only hold you for so longwithout charge.
Ben - 26-Aug-19 @ 8:15 AM
Hi I’ve never been arrested before, or in any trouble at all, so I’m really confused, as to what happens when I answer bail? If they charge me, will they re-arrest me, put me in a cell & question me again? Or will i just be given a court date ?
CAR - 22-Aug-19 @ 5:28 PM
Hi I'm currently on bail restricted access to my ex partner flat. She's now handed the tenency notice in and it ends before my 28 day bail is finished.. How can I get my stuff back as I have stuff here and there she says she'll drop stuff off but how does she know what I need to take. Furniture whatnot? Thanks
Mike bb - 17-Aug-19 @ 7:47 AM
My son has been falsely accused by his alcoholic ex of threatening to kill her. He is on bail for 28 days. Is he allowed to seek employment as he has been suspended from work?
JJ - 12-Aug-19 @ 11:00 AM
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