english legal system - bail

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Bail Definition

It is where any person is released after arrest and can remain at liberty until the next stage of the case.

The main power to grant bail comes from the Bail Act 1976.

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Bail Granted by the Police

At the Police Station

A custody officer makes the decision to grant or refuse bail at the police station;

  • if the suspects name and address can't be discovered or is thought not to be genuine
  • must follow normal principles of bail as set out in Bail Act 1976
  • police can impose conditions on bail

Street Bail

  • a police officer on patrol has the power under s4 Criminal Justice Act 2003 to grant unconditional bail only, save that the suspect should report to the police station at a later date specified by the officer.
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Bail Granted by the Courts

Factors to be Considered

  • nature and seriousness of offence
  • character, past record and community ties
  • whether the defendant has failed to answer to bail before
  • strength of evidence against them

S4 Bail Act 1976 states:

"There is a general right to bail, but the court need not grant a defendant bail if it is satisfied that there are substantial grounds for believing that the defendant if released on bail would:

  • fail to surrender to custody (not turning up to court)
  • commit an offence whilst on bail
  • interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstuct the course of justice
  • defendant should be kept in custody for his/her own protection
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Bail Conditions

Police and Courts can impose conditions such as:

  • surrendering passport (someone has their passport removed to prevent them from running away)
  • residing at a certain address (if a person doesn't have an address, then they can be kept in a bail hostel)
  • surety for bail (another person who is prepared to pay a sum of money if the defendant fails to attend court)
  • curfew (to be at a certain address at certain times of the day)
  • reporting to a particular place at a particular time (turning up to the police station when they are told to, stops them from relocating)
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Other Acts of Parliament

S56 Crime and Disorder Act 1998

  • bail will only be granted if there are exceptional circumstances for very serious offences eg. murder, manslaughter, ****. Where the defendant has already sevred a custodial sentence for such an offence in the past

S19 Criminal Justice Act 2003

  • where an adult offender has tested positive for specified class a drugs and intends to supply or is in possession of the drug, or that the use of the drug contributed to the offence, or failed to attend follow up sessions relating to dependency and there is a significant risk of an offence being committed while on bail, then bail may not be granted
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kal b


Thank you for your detailed explaination of bail. This will help me alot in my revistion to get beter marks in my Law test in june.

once again thank you :)

Amanpreet Kaur


Thanks. It was really useful :)

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