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Police and Court Bail

Author: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 29 March 2015 |
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.


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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Leave a Comment, Ask for Advice or Share Your Story...
[Add a Comment]
My friend has special needs and is going to crown Court.He has been charged with GBH.What can the outcome b. Thanks gino
Gino - 29-Mar-15 @ 12:47 PM
I know a woman who says her husband raped her and he's been sentenced to two years in prison and she needs money. How can I find out if her story is true?
Tanny - 24-Mar-15 @ 6:36 PM
Due to an incident of my partner who hit me he phoned police n pleaded guilty it has been now 5 weeks he can only visit to see our son. we have relevant external people involved and want to move forward with tht support in place case has been moved to a later date what can we do so tht he is allowed to come home n prove this won't happen again before court hearing again.Thankyou
mj1 - 24-Mar-15 @ 6:36 PM
I'm on bail at the moment and not allowed to have any contact with my partner we want to work things out and are due to go abroad soon if we travel separately am I breaking my bail conditions if im out of the country
frstus - 24-Mar-15 @ 6:24 PM
@MrWyatt - I think you had better mention this if it is already booked.
Chris - 20-Mar-15 @ 12:00 PM
@lisabee - I'm afraid we are unable to answer this question as we do not have the inside knowledge.
CourtroomAdvice - 19-Mar-15 @ 2:11 PM
I have court Friday for a plea on ABH and my friend is also in court with me but for GBH wounding with intent now I look to go not guilty and run a trial, The issue is I have a Holiday booked the 31st of this month now will the court let me go on holiday if i provide evidence or shall I not mention this??
MrWyatt - 18-Mar-15 @ 12:57 PM
I was reminded in custody in Nov 14 for defending myself from being strangled to death.I stabbed my ex (who has previously done this and taken to court)I stabbed him in the neck and was given judge in chambers bail at a bail hostel . living in a bail hostel isn't nice and I was wondering if the girl I live with who is also on bail is going straight to prison cos the cid came this morning and followed her to tge toilet surely if it was just questioning they wouldn't have followed her to the toilet?I have just want to know thanks
lisabee - 17-Mar-15 @ 11:31 AM
@Vanilla_eyes - in a word 'no'. He has not only committed assault on you, but he has also broken his bail conditions, twice. I don't want to be harsh here, but given he has alcohol issues, a bit of time inside may just be the jolt he needs to turn his life around and get back on track and perhaps treat you a bit better when he is released.
Honey - 13-Mar-15 @ 12:38 PM
My partner was arrested and remanded on Sunday for breaching court bail twice. He was originally charged with assault by beating but pleaded not guilty although he would have pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of common assault against me , the trial is set for July. He has serious alcohol issues and I am beside myself with the thought of him being deprived of his liberty for so long. Is there any way out of this.
Vanilla_eyes - 12-Mar-15 @ 5:59 AM
@rick - sorry to hear this. There is a support website called Wrongly Accused Person herewhich may offer support while your husband fights his case.
CourtroomAdvice - 11-Mar-15 @ 2:04 PM
@littlePerson - you would have to apply directly through your probation officer in order to get it returned.
CC - 11-Mar-15 @ 11:05 AM
@L - - A warrant will go out for his arrest and he will be taken before the magistrates court and possibly refused further bail.
Jerry - 10-Mar-15 @ 12:36 PM
@P - I hope you have resolved your problem by now by not answering the door. If she won't leave you would probably be better ringing the police.
Abi - 10-Mar-15 @ 10:29 AM
i meant to have said Discriminated sorry
ricktaylor - 9-Mar-15 @ 6:57 PM
My husband has been accused of something he has not done and would never do . He was charged last week . The officer is not taking any statements from 3 witnesses on my husbands side . The description they have is not my husband at all . They have failed to follow up any statements and saying they have enough evidence!!! I would love to know what evidence they have because my husband hasn't done it . They failed to ask him or give him a copy of custody sheet and police code of practice . I am in the process of making a complaint to the IPCC as my husband has been discredited while being interviewed and his being victimised.
ricktaylor - 9-Mar-15 @ 6:47 PM
@ADP - You would have to speak to you probation officer about changing your address, which they may be ok with, but you'll need a lot of luck on being allowed out of the country to go to Italy!
Nicky - 9-Mar-15 @ 2:33 PM
My passport was surrendered as part of a police bail condition last october . It is not part of the court bail condition, can I get my passport back?
littlePerson - 9-Mar-15 @ 12:32 PM
My ex is on bail while we wait to see if cps are going to.charge him. He didn't turn up to be re-bailed a week ago... what's going to happen to him now? His bail conditions were not to contact me directly or indirectly and he's been warned to avoid places he knows i'm likely to be. And he hasnt technically broken these conditions - just failed to attend the police station to be rebailed...
L - 7-Mar-15 @ 9:14 PM
Hi, I had my passport confiscated by court for bail conditions. I have now had the case dealt with and disposed of, should the court automatically return my passport now?
dma1993 - 7-Mar-15 @ 8:58 PM
I have bail conditions to stay away from my partner.. But not my own house. My bail address is my mothers. I am in my own house just now and my partner is trying to get in! I have told her she needs to leave so that i can leave. I know i am not to make any contact with her and cant get out the house. I am looking for advice on how i can get her to leave???
P - 7-Mar-15 @ 3:15 PM
Can you ask for the magistrate court bail conditions to be changed? Address where you need to live and sleep for example? and can you ask to be sent back to your own country ( Italy) while you await trial? Thanks
ADP - 6-Mar-15 @ 11:08 PM
@snel - it may be that they found some new evidence which has helped them be able to prosecute. It is unusual that they would drop a traffic offence especially you didn't have a licence.
Aidy - 6-Mar-15 @ 1:48 PM
Friend Went to sign bail for driving offences, no licence etc and all charges were dropped. A month later they have contacted saying he needs to go in as they wish to proceed. I didn't think they could do that?
snel - 5-Mar-15 @ 2:13 PM
@KG15 - as you have posted two comments and both are slightly different, I suggest you call the Offenders' Families helpline via the link herewho should be able to help.
CourtroomAdvice - 2-Mar-15 @ 12:24 PM
@Dylan - it depends on the gravity of the offence. But you have made it worse by leaving the country when you weren't supposed to. So, it is difficult to anticipate what they might do.
Dan - 2-Mar-15 @ 12:19 PM
My partner has bail conditions to stay away from me and my address and also the neighbours I dropped my statement against him and I recieved a letter from his solicitor stating, I can confirm that I have submitted an application to crown court to vary your bail to allow us to have contact does this mean he can come home? Or does vary the bail mean something different?? Helpppp
KG15 - 26-Feb-15 @ 9:55 PM
My boyfriend has bail conditions from magistrates court to stay away from me and my address and also my neighbours I dropped the statement against him and I recieved a letter from the solicitor which says I can confirm that I have submitted an application to crown court to vary your bail to allow us to have contact what does this mean? I also had a phone call saying the courts have agreed can he come back home?
KG15 - 26-Feb-15 @ 9:53 PM
I have worked overseas for the past ten years. The last time in the UK I was arrested and bailed in relation to an allegation of harassment and have my phone seized. I was interviewed and did not desire legal representation. I explained to the police I would be leaving the country to return to work. They told me I would be unable to do this but that it was probable the CPS would not take it further. Anyway I essentially left the country while bailed and have heard from the police they wish to speak to me when I return. I am unlikely to return to the UK for anything other than short breaks although I don't wish to do that if it is likely I will be arrested and detained.Do you have any advice at all? Would I be denied bail and deemed a flight risk if I return? What is the likely outcome in your view?Any comments would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Dylan - 26-Feb-15 @ 9:32 PM
@kourts - I'm sorry to hear of your worry. As we are a UK-based website , this is not something we can really advise on. I hope you hear something soon.
CourtroomAdvice - 26-Feb-15 @ 10:16 AM
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