The Bail Act 1976
This is the main Act. S4 states that the court doesn't need to grant bail if it is happy that there is substantial grounds for believing that the defendant, if the released, would - fail to turn up at court, commit an offence whilst on bail, interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice, needs to be kept in custody for their own protection. In other words, if the D did all the above, he/she wouldn't be granted bail. Also, other factors include - the seriousness of the offence, the character of the D, the D's previous record and the strength of evidence against the D. But, if the D is charged with an offence which is no imprisonable, then bail can only be refused if the D has previously failed to surrender bail. A D can also appeal against the refusal of the Magistrates' Court to grant bail. This appeal goes to a Crown Court judge.
Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)
S38 gives the custody officer the right to grant bail.
Bail (ammendment) Act 1993
This gives the prosecution the right to appeal to a Crown Court judge against the granting of bail. This applies to any offence which has a imprisonable punishment. Prosecutors must orally tell the court if they wish to oppose bail and produce written notice of appeal within two hours.
Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPO) 1994
Police were given the right to impose conditions on a bail e.g. surrendering a passport. The D can apply to the Magistrates Court to vary the conditions and this must be heard within 72 hours.
S25 removes the presumption to grant bail if an indictable or TEW offence is commited by the D whilst on bail.
This act also removed the right to bail for those charged with murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, **** and attempted ****.
Crime and Disorder Act 1998
S56, ammended the CJPO act by stating bail CAN be granted for murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, **** and attempted ****. It was altered because ti would conflict with the human rights act, 1998 (human rights link!).
Example cases - Sion Jenkins and Gary Weddel
Criminal Justice Act 2003
S19 places restrictions on bail for adult offenders who have tested positive for specified Class A drugs.
S14 states a person over 18 cannot get bail when charged with an offence committed while already on bail. Courts have discretion for under 18 yr olds.
Criminal Justice and Immigration Act
S51 - Electronic monitoring can now be a bail condition
Coroners and Justice Act 2009
S41 ammends Bail Act 1976. Magistrates can no longer consider bail in murder cases. This can only be granted by a Crown Court judge only.
The police can:
- Release a person on bail at any point after arrest
- Release a person charged with a criminal offence while making further enquiries
- Realease a person on bail to appear at a Magistrates' Court on a Specified date (s.38 PACE and ammended by CJPOA)
- Impose conditions (CJPOA)
Bail in the Magistrates' Court
- If the police refuse bail the person charged must appear in a Magistrates' Court at the first possible opportunity
- Magistrates' must then make a decision on whether to apply bail or remand
- Magistrates can also consider bail at any later stage in the proceedings
- Magistrates have the power to impose conditions
Reasons for Refusing Bail
Bail can be refused if there are substantial grounds to believe the defendant would:
- Fail to surrender to custody (fail to turn up at court)
- Commit an offence while on bail
- Interfere with witnessess or otherwise obstruct justice
Factors to be taken into account
In deciding whether to grant bail, court will consider the:
- Nature and seriousness of the offence and the probable means of dealing with it
- Character, antecendants (past record), associations and community ties of the defendant
- The defendant's previous behaviour while on bail
- The strength of evidence in the case
Police or Magistrates' can impose conditions on granting bail, including requiring the defendant to:
- Surrender his/her passport
- Report to a police station at regular intervals
- Abide by curfews or reside in a bail hostel
- Provide surety
Criticisms on the bail system
- Most people are summonsed rather than charged, and the police give bail to 5/6 ths of those who charged
- There was concern in the 80s and 90s about the large number of people granted bail who then re-offended. This led to reforms in the Bail Amendment Act 1993
- It has been argued that too many people are refused bail, since 20% of people in prisons are on remand and 60% of those then convicted get non-custodial sentences.