- When someone is accused of a crime, they are sent to prison to await trial, but in these circumstances, if bail i refused it must be in exceptional circumstances.
- A person can be released on Bail at any point after being arrested by the police.
- Being on Bail means that the person is at liberty until the next stage in the case.
- The issue of Bail can be decided by the police, a magistrate or the crown court.
Police Powers to Grant Bail
- The police may release a suspect on Bail while they make further inquiries.
- This means that the suspect is released from police custody on condition that they return to the police station on a specific date in the future.
- The police also give bail to a defendant that has been charged with an offence only if the defendant appears at the local Magistrates' Court on a set date.
- The decisison on whether to grant bail is made by the custody officer under section 38 of the Police and criminal evidence Act 1984 (PACE) as amended by the criminal justice and public order Act 1994.
- The custordy officer can refuse bail if the suspect's name and address cannot be discovered, or if there is doubts as to whether the name and address given is genuine.
- Bail may also be refused if detentions is necessary to protect the suspect or witnesses.
- Bail will also be refused if the custody officer believes you will fail to attend court, or interfere with witnesses, or the administration of justice.
- The conditions as to when bail should be granted are set out in the Bail Act 1976.If a person granted bail by the police fails to surrender to that bail then police are given the right to arrest them.
- The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 gave police the power to impoe conditions on a grant of Bail.
- They included asking the suspect to surrender his passport, report at regular intervals to the police station or get another person to stand surety to them.
- These conditions can also be imposed in order to make sure that the suspect surrenders to bail, doesn't commit a crime an offence and doesnt interfere with the course of justice.
- If you fail to attend court wihtout a reasonable excuse, you commit a separate offence under the Bail Act 1976. If you break any of the conditions of your bail, you can be arrested and brought in custody to the next sitting of the local Magistrates' Courts who may then take away your bail.
- If the police dont allow bail, they must bring the defendant infront of the Magistates' Court at the first opportunity, where the magistrate will then take away the Bail
- If the magistrate cannot hear the whole case in the first hearing they will have to decide whether the defendant should be given bail or remand in custody.
- The police and justice Act signigicantly increased the range of conditions which can be imposed on people on bail.
Bail Act 1976
This is the key act starting with the asumption that an accused person should be granted bail, though the right is limited for certain cases. They dont have to allow bail if the defendant:
- failed to surrender to custody.
- Committed an offence while on bail.
- interfere with witnessess or otherwise obstruct the course of justice.
The court can also refuse bail if it is satisfied that the defendant should be kept in custody for his or others protection:
- The seriousness of the offence,
- The character, past records,associations and community ties of the defendant,
- Has the defendant turned up to court in previous convictions,
- the strength of evidence against them,
- if they have had bail taken off them previously.
bail act 1976
- The criminal justice & court services Act 2000 states that the court must take into account any drug use when considering whether or not to grant bail.
- If the defendant is charged with an offence that isnt punishable by imprisonment, bail can only be refused if the defendant has previously failed to surrender to bail and there are grounds for believing that he will not surrender on this occasion.
- A court can make conditions for the granting of bail. These are similar to conditions which can be set by the police and may include the surrender of passports.
- The courts can also attach conditions to bail, such as:
- where the accused must reside while on bail; this could be at a home address or at a bail hostel.
- Payment of a cash security into court,
- Providing a surety.
- The court and police can require surety for bail.
- A surety is a person prepared to pay the court a certain amount of money if the defendant fails to attend court.
- No money is paid unless the defendant fails to answer his bail.
- A surety cannot have a criminal record, and needs to provide proof that the necessary funds are available such as bank statements.
Amendments to the Bail Act 1976
During the 1980's and early 1990's there were concerns that the Bail Act 1976allowed bail to be given too freely and dangerous defendants were being released on bail and in some cases defendants were committing further offences while on bail.
This led to the passing of section 153 of the Criminal justice Act 1988 which ammended the Bail Act, so that a court is required to give reasons for granting bail where the offence charged is murder, manslaughter and ****.
The following year, the Bail (Amendment) Act 1993 gave the prosecution the right to appeal to a judge at the crown court against the granting of bail provided:
- The offence charged carries a max sentence of 5 years imprisonment, or is the offence of taking a conveyance without consent.
- The prosecution objected to bail.
- The prosecution give immediate verbal notice of the intention to appeal followed by a written notice to the magistrates within 2 hours.
Amendments to the Bail Act 1976
- But such appeals is unusual. The criminal justice and public order act 1994, s.26 amends the bail act so that the presumption in favour of bail is removed where it appears that the defendant has committed a triable either way offence or an indictable offence, while alread on bail for other offences.
- S.25 of the criminal justice and public order Act 1994 also barred the courts from granting bail in cases of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, **** or attempted **** where the defendant has already served a custodial sentence for such an offence on a previous occasion.