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Police and Court Bail

Author: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 29 July 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]
@Suzie - I'm afraid it is impossible to advise on this as much will depend upon his previous record and current actions in the eyes of the court.
CourtroomAdvice - 30-Jul-15 @ 12:37 PM
Sir, 4 members has been on bail in IPC302 , but due to missing of one date court has custudy , i have apply for bail on 22 Jul 15 but still court has not any order given. What is other step please suggest.
san - 29-Jul-15 @ 6:16 PM
my ex husband was charged with assaulting me, he was given bail conditions not to contact me, however he was constantly phoning and texting. He was pressuring me to drop the charges against him as a close family member was seriously ill and the possibility of him going to jail would have been too much for them. I did this but he was still found guilty but as i withdrew my statement he was only fined on a lesser charge. I have now found out that this was all a lie and that there was nothing wrong with the family member, he only said this to make me feel guilty. Do i have any comeback on him as i can prove that he was constantly contacting me breaching the bail conditions he had.
Nicckys - 29-Jul-15 @ 10:55 AM
My partner threw cold coffee in my face nearly a month ago, I got him charged and he was put on bail, he's already on bail with his ex partner, without going into the emotional reasons why I've decided to give him a second chance however he's not allowed to contact me till October, I've sent emails to his lawyer and fiscals office stating that I wish to reconcile and it was a silly mistake, that he's been punished enough and we would like to make amends, the review is on Thursday and the solicitor is optimistic, do we have a good chance of the bail getting lifted? I know domestics are taken seriously, I have told fiscal that I've been with him 7 months and he's never been aggressive or abusive and this was a one off, that he is a kind loving man. I'm worried his bail with ex and my history with my ex ( my ex was extremely abusive) may stop court from lifting bail as I may be regarded as vulnerable, my daughter is nearly 16 and I know they will consider this also. Have we a real chance at it getting lifted?
Suzie - 28-Jul-15 @ 2:20 PM
Im on bail at the moment.my wife has been offered a job in about 150 miles away.bail conditions dosent mention about stayon the current aaddress.so can I inform police and move out to new home.
lucy - 27-Jul-15 @ 12:41 PM
how successful is judge in chambers bail app for serious offences such as GBH without any previous offences...?
paul - 27-Jul-15 @ 2:25 AM
Excuse the typos sorry. He was meant to be reporting to the police tomorrow but lied to get an extension to go on holiday. I've informed the police about him breaking his bail and also about being abroad. He's going to be charged with assault. Will he be arrested again when he turns up on the 31st? Will it go against him that he's lied about being in work and also breaking bail?
Needtoknowx - 26-Jul-15 @ 11:08 PM
My friend lost her passport in Turkey she was arrested by police after 3days police take her to court and detened for one month .... can court grant her bail after one month for this passport issue
jeff - 23-Jul-15 @ 2:10 AM
Hi I have just been put on bail a second time for an assault on my fiancee.and part of conditions are no contact with her, I have had to cancel are wedding and had to rebook thinking I wouldnt get rebailed and now they have rebailed untill the day after the new wedding date is there anything I can do to get bail lifted as its important I speak to my partner as we stand to loose a hell of a lot of money :-(
markimark - 21-Jul-15 @ 11:36 AM
My bf is on bail he has been charged and in court this week he's booked a holiday? Can he leave the country wen on bail also he's not staying at the address given on his bail conditions? What can happen? Will he get arrested and kept until his court date as he booked it knowing he was up in court?
Jojo - 20-Jul-15 @ 12:38 AM
I have been granted bail with conditions such as; not allowed in london, curfew between 8 to 8 with and can't speak to the victim directly or indirectly. I have been on bail for the past 5 months since I was bailed out from custody on remand. I have not broken any of my bail conditions since I've been out and recently I got a job offer in london. I want to change my bail address back to London and had the hearing two days ago. The cps don't allow me but I feel that I have proved i can stick to the bail conditions and it will be unfair for me to be granted bail at my actually home address in London. The judge reserved the hearing for two days for the decision. My solicitor also added more conditions such as signing on to the police station weekly and drop my curfew time to 7. Should the judge allow me to live back at my normal address in london?I haven't breached anything and believe have proved i can stick to my conditions.
ali - 15-Jul-15 @ 11:50 PM
@sharnah - I'm afraid it may not be as straightforward as you think getting charged dropped. The CPS take any form of domestic abuse seriously and will decide whether it has enough evidence to charge, regardless of the wishes of the victim. The CPS's objective is for the safety of the victim and/or any children who may be involved. You can see the CPS Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Domestic Violence via the link here which will fully explain the reasoning behind its decisions to charge. I hope this helps.
CourtroomAdvice - 10-Jul-15 @ 9:54 AM
@jambo - it depends on what your bail conditions are. You should speak to your offending officer to find out this information.
CourtroomAdvice - 9-Jul-15 @ 11:52 AM
my partner was charged with assault on me. He pushed me and I fell and chipped my tooth. We have a child together and it's all been over exaggerated. How do I get bail conditions dropped. He's had his plea hearing and he went not guilty. So who do I go to for it to happen
sharnah - 8-Jul-15 @ 12:14 AM
I was told that charges are removed after a certain time frame. If you are a foreign national and leave prior to your court hearing and surrendering your passport (thus skipping bail), you may re enter the UK after 5 years with no problem. Is that true? (for a charge such as possession of an illegal substance)
CountryRe-entry - 7-Jul-15 @ 6:01 PM
@d - I'm afraid we can't answer your question as we are UK-based and have no knowledge of Canadian police bail law.
CourtroomAdvice - 7-Jul-15 @ 1:47 PM
@lindag - you would have to contact your probation officer directly for this information.
CourtroomAdvice - 7-Jul-15 @ 10:14 AM
I am on bail for drinking and drivi g and have a short 3 day trip to france planned - i am not due in court for anothrr 6 weeks and am wondering whether i am allowed to leave country snd still go(
jambo - 6-Jul-15 @ 1:38 PM
I have been released on bail for aggravated assault I had a clean record for 11 years part of my conditions are to report once a week curfew from 11 to 6 and keep away from the victim his home town or place of residence. This curfew cannot be changed till hearing in 2 months witch screws my summer over basicly. If I get a job lined up and an employer to write a letter of employement to give to my supervisor that requires going to camp where I've worked my whole carrier at but where it is pretty remote locations where police can't just stroll out to check my curfew can my bail officer reject mye going to work the only place I can where I need money to pay my bills support my family and such just because I can't be checked on ? I'm also not to change my residence as a condition, p.s I'm in BC Canada
d - 4-Jul-15 @ 10:12 PM
Hi I was put on a curfew under nothing r they suppose to check me everyday between 7pm and 7am cause its been three days and no one has been here
lindag - 4-Jul-15 @ 10:19 AM
@Cc - you would have to speak directly to your offending officer.
CourtroomAdvice - 3-Jul-15 @ 9:53 AM
I need my bail address moved asap as i am bein chucked out tonight,i have a address to go to and i have a curfew my lawyers dealing with it but not quick enough,is ther someone i can contact phone or somthing
Cc - 3-Jul-15 @ 8:14 AM
@angiej - I'm afraid we were unable to get to your question in time for your son appearing in court. I hope you managed to sort it out.
CourtroomAdvice - 2-Jul-15 @ 9:46 AM
@Roseamelia - I'm afraid I'm going to push you in the direction of speaking with someone else. I suggest you call the Offenders' Families helpline via the link here and talk to someone directly who may be able to advise you on the best course of action under the circumstances. Whatever you do though, make sure you get in touch with the police station or your offending officer to explain your situation.
CourtroomAdvice - 1-Jul-15 @ 2:00 PM
my son has been in prison for 6 months now and appeared in court on June 2nd. He pleaded guilty to ABH and the judge asked for a pre sentencing report to be done. The Probation service said that it would be done by June 30th and that is when they set the court date for sentencing. We have discovered that it has not been done and am wondering what will happen next. Can you advise Please?
angiej - 29-Jun-15 @ 11:22 AM
I got given a conditional caution for assault a month ago and was asked to attend a police station a month later. I got made homeless in this time and try to contact them to say that I physically couldn't attend as I had no money and no way of getting there as I had to go back down south,they were nothing but rude to me on the phone and I've spoken to numerous people and im really worried as I don't want to be arrested again. It's my first and only offence and I just want to sort it all asap
Roseamelia - 28-Jun-15 @ 8:35 PM
I was arrested and placed on bail I have done nothing wrong it's just a description given was vague and my vehicle was in the vicinity before this incident they took my car which I use for work and this has caused me serious anxiety issues and loss of earnings what can I do as I have never been in this situation in my life
Lp11 - 25-Jun-15 @ 8:21 PM
My friend has been remanded in custody how long is it before they canapply for high court bail?
shaz - 24-Jun-15 @ 6:35 PM
@Querry - no, there will be a certain time frame attached to the conditions
Sam - 22-Jun-15 @ 2:36 PM
My husband has bail conditions of not to contact me in any way and to go to police station every week and be in at a certain time. Can he have any of these conditions lifted as he has never tried to contact me
Querry - 19-Jun-15 @ 4:17 PM
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