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Police and Court Bail

Author: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 6 July 2015 |
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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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[Add a Comment]
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
@Confussed - you should not respond to the texts, but keep hold of them and inform your offending officer of the situation. If you respond you will be in breach of your bail conditions.
CourtroomAdvice - 17-Jun-15 @ 12:32 PM
@Andre - If you try to contact this person, you could actually do much more harm than good. Regardless of whether it is your decision to try an override his bail conditions, he will ultimately be responsible for the breach. Therefore, you need to heed the warnings and not contact him. If you are serious about wanting to drop the charges you should contact your solicitor or the police dealing with the crime. You might also have to go to court and say that you no longer want to proceed. However, whether you want to drop the charges or not, it is the police or CPS who will decide if they have enough evidence to prosecute. I have included a link here regarding what it bases its decisions upon. I hope this helps.
CourtroomAdvice - 17-Jun-15 @ 9:49 AM
@Anon0831 - The police and courts can impose 'any' requirements which are necessary to make sure that defendants attend court and do not commit offences or interfere with witnesses whilst on bail. The police have obviously decided that you have knowledge relevant to the particular event he is being charged for, or can give relevant information on another matter of interest in connection to, or surrounding the event.
CourtroomAdvice - 16-Jun-15 @ 2:00 PM
@lou74 - I'm afraid this is a question you will need to put to his legal representative, as it is very much dependent upon how and why the information was recorded incorrectly.
CourtroomAdvice - 16-Jun-15 @ 1:52 PM
Hi I was interviewed by the police on Wednesday accused of 2 assaults I was free to go pending cps desision I'm not aloud to contact my ex partner who has made the claims but she is using friends to mesage me and tell me she is in hospital having problems cuz she apparently pregnant ... I'm getting message after message what should I do
Confussed - 14-Jun-15 @ 3:07 PM
I am a mentor and teacher. My mentee, the guy whom I was mentoring and lived at my address assaulted me but no physical or psychologicalinjuries, He got arrested, charged by the police and is now on bail condition not to contact me or come near my address. my family, his family, all abroad, begged me to drop the charges. I personally want to drop the charges and remove the condition how is it possible to remove the condition of him not allowed to contact me so we can meet and talk over the whole thing to forgive him and provide him with a second chance to resume his life, access employment and start a fresh? how do I go about dropping the charges? since I do not want him to go to prison for this minor assault. how is it possible to remove the condition ( not allowed to contact me or come near my address)?
Andre - 14-Jun-15 @ 2:44 AM
I have been named in my partners bail conditions stating he is not to intimidate a witness..I have not been interviewed or am not a witness against him for anything?? Is this allowed, he isn't allowed to speak to me have direct or indirect contact.how's this?
Anon0381 - 13-Jun-15 @ 7:51 PM
Hi, the police incorrectly recorded on my husbands records that he had committed offences whilst on bail, therefore breaching his bail. We have only recently been informed of the police error. My husband was sentenced to prison last year, could this incorrect breach of bail information been a factor in the judges decision on sentencing?
lou74 - 13-Jun-15 @ 7:45 PM
@jack - I'm afraid you will need to speak directly to your probation officer over this matter.
CourtroomAdvice - 11-Jun-15 @ 11:12 AM
Hi, in a book I'm writing the main character, Laura was arrested on suspicion of an offence but not charged. The original bail date was in May, then extended to June, and extended again to August. Her bail conditions were to live and sleep at her address. However she had booked a holiday abroad before she was arrested, which is booked for July. What is best for her to do? Can she travel?
Hrop - 9-Jun-15 @ 3:57 PM
I was given bail and told to return in august, I realised that it's the same date that I booked a holiday for, am I able to change the date as I can't change the holiday.?
jack - 9-Jun-15 @ 3:17 PM
@Donna11 - the CPS will make the decision to prosecute on the evidence produced regardless of your own actions and whether you think your partner should be prosecuted or not. Please see CPS link herewhich gives the reasons why these policies are put into place. I hope this helps.
CourtroomAdvice - 9-Jun-15 @ 2:10 PM
@Unsure - if there are no restrictions on your bail conditions then you can go away as long as you are back for any dates the police or courts have given you.
San - 9-Jun-15 @ 1:38 PM
Hi my partner has been given bail conditions not to contact me until his trail date in 4 months after pleading not guilt to an assault charge against myself after the police where called to our home by the neighbours. I have written to the court to have the bail conditions removed as I am not in fear of my partner and did not give a statement to the police and do not wish to do so, I've also requested the case to be dropped, I have stated he is not a violent man. Will the court remove bail conditions so I can see my partner? Will the charges be dropped?
Donna11 - 7-Jun-15 @ 8:47 PM
I have just had a preliminary hearing at crown court. I am on bail with no restrictions regarding passport surrender. Am I able to leave the country for a hen party if the dates don't coincide with any court dates. And should I inform the court, police or my barrister?
Unsure - 7-Jun-15 @ 4:13 PM
@Melv - yes there are no restrictions any more and you are no longer bound by the conditions.
Vic - 5-Jun-15 @ 12:16 PM
I was on bail and I wasn't aloud to talk to certain people as part of my bail conditions. All charges have been dropped so can I talk to these people again?
Melv - 4-Jun-15 @ 8:11 PM
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