The core principle of bail conditions is that they minimise the risk of the offender re-offending. The conditions will be specific to the crimes committed and are imposed by either the local court or the supreme court depending on the severity of the charge.
What are Bail Conditions?
Bail conditions are put in place as both a deterrent and a protection to the general public. When someone commits an offence, they may be granted bail until their matter is determined. In Australia, accused are innocent until proven guilty however reasonable precautions need to be taken when innocence is in question.
Bail conditions are precautions taken to mitigate unacceptable risk to the community. Bail applications made to the court must address how the accused will be safe within the community and what conditions they are willing to agree to. These conditions range from specific curfews to restrains on the use of alcohol and drugs. Realistically however, the conditions need to be relevant to the alleged crime committed.
What Bail Conditions should I be aware of?
Depending on the circumstances of the alleged crime, you may be subject to or need to consider being subject to the following conditions;
- A restraint of illicit drugs or alcohol;
- A curfew;
- A condition to remain outside licenced establishments;
- A restraint on approaching certain groups or specific individuals;
Each condition needs to mitigate risk. The purpose of bail is largely to prove a period of good behaviour so that the court can see whether you are taking positive or negative steps.
How Do I Apply For Bail?
Depending on which court you are in (i.e. Supreme court or local court) you will need to apply for bail subject to the rules of that specific court. Bail applications need to be both factual and persuasive so it is essential to take the process seriously.
Most people engage a criminal lawyer to assist them with making the application as they are experts in the field. To make an application, your lawyer needs to first advise your chances of success. The court can look unfavorably on applications which are made with little to no chance of success as they can consider it an abuse of process. At the end of the day, a successful application for bail needs to have the court on its side.
Your lawyer will assist you to make the application and then argue it before the court. You may be asked questions or asked to confirm that you will uphold the conditions placed on you. Your lawyer will need to have faith that you will abide by the conditions in order to convince the court to take a gamble on you. Ultimately, they need to be convinced that there is not an unacceptable risk to the public in doing so.
What should I keep in mind when applying for bail?
When applying for bail, it is important to remember that the key consideration is preventing an unacceptable risk to the community. The court must also consider whether granting bail will endanger the safety of any specific members of the community. It is a big decision for the court to decide to grant bail to someone who has been charged with an offence.
There must be consideration given to whether there is a risk that the accused will re-offend while on bail as well. If the risk is high, then bail will not be granted as the risk to the community is too high.
What bail conditions may I be subject to if I have previously had bail and breached it?
It is difficult to be granted bail if you have been granted it in the past and breached any of your bail conditions. This will also be the case if you fail to appear at any court dates. If you have breached any conditions and you do manage to be granted bail a second time, then you may be the subject of the following;
- Restraint of alcohol and drugs;
- Restraint against coming into contact with certain individuals or groups;
- Police checks in;
If you have been caught committing further offences whilst subject to bail then it is highly likely you will not be successfully given bail again. It is always best to get legal advice as early as possible when considering a bail application as they are best equipped to attend court on your behalf.
What happens if I commit an offence while on bail?
If you commit an offence while already on bail, your bail will be revoked and you will be remanded into custody for the length of your matter’s final determination. If the outcome of your criminal matters is that you will serve a term of imprisonment, they can take into account time already served.
Why may I be asked to stay away from witnesses?
You may be asked or ordered to maintain distance from any potential witnesses in your matter to avoid any allegations you have tried to interfere with witnesses and their testimony or evidence. This is a serious offence as it is considered perverse against the course of justice.
Witnesses can be all types, police, friends, family, members of the community, etc. You will likely be deemed to pose an unacceptable risk if there is a chance that you could tamper with witness testimony. It is essential that between each court date, the safety and validity of witness testimony remains in tact. If you are fortunate enough to get bail, you may need to address how you plan to deal with this issue in the event that witnesses are people you will see regularly.
What Is A Bail undertaking?
A bail undertaking is a form which people sign when they are being released from police custody. Usually they are signing to confirm they understand that they will need to attend court and on what date and time that attendance should be. The police officer is placing faith in the offender by releasing them before their court date.
Usually a bail undertaking will only be allowed in circumstances where the offender is subject to less serious crimes which are not of a violent nature. You do not need to make a bail application for a bail undertaking. It is imperative if you are asked to sign a bail undertaking that you take note of the court date to ensure you do not miss it.
How long after I am released will my next court date be?
If you are fortunate enough to be released on bail from custody then your court date will likely be within a few weeks to months after that date. The court aims to determine matters on a final basis as soon as possible. it is important that you appear in court on every occasion you are required as it will show that you understand how serious the matter is as well as it being a requirement of your bail terms.
What Legislation should I consider for more information?
If you wanting to look towards legislation for information about bail applications then you should consider the bail act specific to your state or territory (i.e. Victoria, NSW, etc). The bail act will lay out the following;
- Bail application requirements;
- Types of bail;
- Bail condition requirements;
- How the court may grant bail;
What is legal aid?
Legal aid is a government funding program designed to assist people who cannot afford legal services. The program exists for family law and criminal law matters and can be used for matters arising in both the Magistrates court and Supreme court.
You can obtain legal aid funding for the making of bail applications specifically so you can engage legal advice and assistance. If you are refused bail, you can, in certain circumstances, obtain funding to appeal the decision.