B) Discuss the Advantages and Disadvantages of Bail
It is very important that a balance is maintained in terms of upholding the defendant’s human rights and protecting the public. This is especially important because at this point the accused is still innocent until proven guilty, so they should not be treated as a convicted criminal. Some 14% of those bailed to appear in court fail to do so (Criminal Justice Statistics 2003) and nearly 25% of defendants commit at least one offence whilst on bail (Offending While on Bail, Home Office, Report No 72, Brown 1998).
The court’s power to grant bail is governed by the Bail Act 1976. Although there is a presumption in favour of bail it can be denied where imprisonment is a possible punishment such as theft or robbery; if there are substantial grounds for believing that the suspect would commit another offence whilst on bail; fail to surrender to bail; interfere with witnesses or obstruct the course of justice (tamper with evidence for example; or the suspect needs to be kept in custody for his own protection. Bail can also be refused if the offender may commit an act involving domestic violence.
Bail can be granted with or without conditions attached, with unconditional bail there are no restrictions, the accused is released into the community and must return to the court at a specified date. Alternatively conditions can be imposed, although the accused can retains the right to their freedom this freedom is curtailed so there is still an impact on their right to liberty. The conditions are imposed to minimise the risk of the D committing another offence whilst on bail or to prevent him from interfering with the investigation and in some circumstances to protect the D from themselves or to protect witnesses, victims etc. These conditions are an advantage because while the defendant is still on bail, there is still some control over them, which increases the credibility of bail. Conditions may include a curfew, electronic tag, surrender of passport, or reporting to a police station.
One advantage of bail is that if it is granted, the defendant can stay in employment and spend time with their family during this period. E.g. Chris Jeffries (Joanna Yates). If bail is denied this can have significant economic consequences as if the accused loses their employment, they could lose the family home be unable to pay…