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Police and Court Bail

Author: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 29 October 2014 |
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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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Leave a Comment, Ask for Advice or Share Your Story...
[Add a Comment]
Am ex colleague of mine is currently on bail whilst being investigated for rape. Is there any way that I can find out whether he has been formally charged or not? Is this information made public? Many thanks.
xoxox - 29-Oct-14 @ 6:55 PM
@Kim92 - The justification for the process of bail is essentially a practical one. So, I'd think it would depend upon the crime committed, but I imagine they will want to know where he is and will do everything to ensure he is where he says he's going to be, as it is important that a defendant is not allowed to ‘go on the run’ and miss the court hearing, or try to intimidate certain witnesses. JohnJ.
JohnJ - 27-Oct-14 @ 2:11 PM
@LW2 are you sure this PC is legit? It sounds like it could be breach of bail. I'd try and find out some more info about this PC first. When he next rings; get his name, ID number, telehone number, dept etc, and then do a back check to see. He shouldn't be harassing you. If he is legit, could you arrange a place between you to deposit your ex's belongings, rather than him come to the house? Have you got family that could deliver his stuff to your ex, or his family, so you don't have to see him? Sal
Sal - 27-Oct-14 @ 1:05 PM
My partner has been on remand for almost 6 weeks now and he got his hearing on the 7th of November he wants to apply for a bail and his using my mothers address will they have to contact her first before applying for it ?
Kim92 - 26-Oct-14 @ 9:18 AM
My ex is on police bail pending investigation for rape against me and his 1st wife.His bail conditions are ti not go near either of us our houses or our streets. I am getting daily calls from a neighbourhood pc saying that if he escorts him to the house he can enter and take his belongings.While I have no problem with him having his things I am concerned about him being around me and the children. Would this be a breach of bail? The calls from the pc in question are becoming increasing frequent and more like harrassment
LW2 - 26-Oct-14 @ 12:05 AM
My son has an appeal coming up on November 4th 2014 so see if he can get his sentence reduced as i think he was badly represented and now i believe there was no pre sentence report either but in worried he will have to serve time already served again if he looses the appeal and i cant seem to get help as his 1st appeal got rejected. With no one to represent him should i tell him not to go ahead with it.
madmand - 24-Oct-14 @ 1:10 PM
@titchy13 - do you know anyone who knows your neighbour that might be able to tell you?
mel - 21-Oct-14 @ 2:53 PM
@bdanny - no one could say for sure whether your boyfriend might get let out at this stage until it goes to court. It is fully dependent upon the nature of his crimes and case.
CourtroomAdvice - 21-Oct-14 @ 2:11 PM
I have a disruptive neighbour who I believe ison bail how can I find out?
titchy13 - 21-Oct-14 @ 10:43 AM
hi, my boyfriend was remanded for robbery, he has not long been arrested and in court for criminal damage and was bailed and fined £200, then 3 week after he did a robbery. we was on the run for a week and half then he handed his self in, he has been in jail for exactly 2 weeks now and we was ment to have court tomorrow (monday) but he rang me and said he has been suspended till the 7th of November. could you help me out I'm not sure if hes going to be getting out, he said he might be getting out on tagg but I'm not sure he will? does anyone think he will? #ImScared
bdanny - 19-Oct-14 @ 10:05 PM
Hi,looking for any advice.My wife three months ago got questioned over an incident at work.Basically a resident in a care home left a cigarette burning in a small round ashtray.It caught the paper in the ashtray. Started a fire within the 3 inch ashtray which was then put out.Everyone was questioned apparently because obviously the dimentia patient is exempt from questioning.Ridiculous in itself by the way.Sane enough to smoke sane enough to answer.Anyway she wasn't charged,but bailed pending further enquiries and given a date of nov 3 to go back to the station.Obviously its put massive strain on everyone with it hanging over you.We wondered would she have heard by now if anything was happening? We've literally not heard anything.Although she hadn't done anything its extremely worrying not knowing what happens.Is it good that we've not heard and its got to her bail date soon? Any genuine advice much appreciated.thanks
MJ2014 - 13-Oct-14 @ 1:27 PM
@fluffykitten, the police obviously have evidence of this attack otherwise they wouldn't be able to charge your husband and bail him. The police either have a witness statement of this attack or they have witnessed it themselves.
den - 4-Sep-14 @ 9:55 AM
My ex attacked me 4 months ago and was bailed out of the county he then broke his bail and has been in prison for about 6 weeks i am wondering if i would be allowed to go to his bail hearing to see what is going on?
abbyxxxx - 3-Sep-14 @ 7:23 PM
Mme and my husband had an arguement on sat night and we was both very drunk and pushing each other, the police turned up and arrested my husband they said he was punching me in the face and stamping on my head which he did none of this he is now gotta go court and has been bailed and not allowed to contact me or come near me or the house I think this is unfair and need to know what I can do to change this?
fluffykitten - 3-Sep-14 @ 4:45 PM
Am servin a sentence now of two years on yot 90 day tag and 12 months supervision that was for a section 18 gbh I am back in court on the 1st of September on another section 18 am pleading not guilty because I never done this offence I done the other one and owned upto it on my hearing will they believe me on this offence because I told the truth straight away last time?
Snitches get stitche - 31-Aug-14 @ 1:00 AM
I had my husband arrested recently after he assaulted me whilst children where in the house He denied everything, but he has been known for his violence in his past years and has a few records to prove this This was not the first time he assaulted me but I dropped the charges before. He was on bail staying at another address, then he found a job and moved up North, then he failed to turn up for his court date, a warrant was out for his arrest and now is in police custody until he has a court date If he pleads not guilty then this case will go to trial( to which I really dread facing) If he pleads guilty ....what could happen Is there a chance he could be sent to prison?????
Numnuts - 23-Aug-14 @ 2:31 PM
what is the longest time spanknown to anyone thata defendant can be held under court bail and curfew conditions?
blackie - 22-Aug-14 @ 1:30 PM
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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