A Guide to Bail

My brief Solicitors have successfully applied for bail for clients in both the Magistrates Court and on serious matters in the Crown Court such as high level fraud cases, and even offences of serious violence.

Let us assume you have been charged at the policse station and they have decided to not grant you bail. You will be in court the nexy working day and the prosecution will try and have you “remanded” or sent to prison until your trial.

Bail during court proceedings is presumed to be something that everyone is entitled to except in certain circumstances.

The prosecution can only make an objection before you are convicted if one or more of three conditions are met. These grounds for refusing bail are:

(a) That you will fail to appear at court to answer your bail
(b) That you will commit other offences while on bail
(c) That there is a risk that you will interfere with prosecution witnesses.
(d) That it is for your own safety.

Failure to appear

A court will usually look at the following factors when deciding whether you arelikely to not appear to answer your bail:

(i)Previous record of not appearing to answer bail.

Evidence that you have previous “bail offences” might show this, and this is information that will often be available on the previous convictions printout that the court will have. If there is a bad bail attendance record, convincing explanations of what happened on those occasions and reasons why they are less significant than they seem have to be presented to the court.

(ii)Whether the you have ties to the community.

It is often harder for immigrants to get bail when accused of imprisonable offences, because Judges are concerned that they will simply return to their native country to avoid conviction. Similarly, if your lifestyle has an international element, ties to family and financial interests in the UK need to be shown to show that relocation to a different country is unlikely.

(iii)Seriousness of the offence, and strength of the evidence.

This is not an official reason for a court to not grant bail, but for serious offences, the theory is that if the evidence is strong then so is the chance of a long prison sentence, and therefore the chance of you not turning up to court is higher. This argument can be the single most problematic for any application for bail where a serious offence such as, for example, murder or armed robbery

(iv)Further offences on bail.

A court will be less likely to give bail where there is a recent history of offending while on bail for other offences. Again, the court will have access to this information through your previous convictions printout,known as
Antecedents or “form”. The court will be less concerned if the previous offences are not of a similar or equally serious category to the offence charged. If someone is charged with robbery, but has previous offences committed while on bail for driving whilst disqualified, a good defence team will ask the court to give the previous offences less weight.

(v)Interference with witnesses.

The prosecution can object to bail on the grounds that keeping you in prison to prevent you from interfering with prosecution witnesses, i.e. to stop the witnesses giving evidence in the trial, or getting them to change their evidence. This has to be argued on the facts, and is more likely to prevent bail if you know or have contact with the witnesses in question. In some cases threats and intimidation are part of the allegations, and this can make it easier for the prosecution to claim that witnesses are likely to be interfered with if you are granted bail.

Conditions the court can impose to allow it to grant bail

(a)Curfew / residence requirement

The court can make a requirement that you live at a certain address, often away from the alleged victim in the case. This can potentially ease the court’s concerns about the possibility of all three of the potential bail objections because:

1. you areat a fixed address, so easy for the police to keep an eye on you and so absconding is less likely

2. if the bail address is far away from the scene of the alleged crime then interference with witnesses is less likely

3. many criminal offences happen at night and outside the home (e.g. pub fights etc.) residence far away from the scene of the alleged crime or a curfew requirement can keep you away from potentially criminal situations so further offences are less likely.

(b)Reporting requirement

This allows the police to keep aware of the rough location of you as you will have to report to a police station three or more times per week. This means that the police will be made aware quickly if you abscond and “do a runner”.

(c)Surety / Security

Surety and security are two important tools for a bail application for any serious offence. They are financial assurances made to the court usually by your family members , to guarantee your attendance at court whilst on bail.

Security is money paid into court before the you allowed out on bail.
This must be paid into court in cash or other cleared funds.

Surety is money promised to the court by third parties (e.g. family members), and only paid if the you do not answer your bail or turn up to court.
This can be in the form of money left in the third party’s bank account, or other assets (such as equity in a house).

Documentary evidence must be provided to the court showing that this money is available, or that assets equivalent to that amount exist. This could be in the form of a bank statement or a mortgage statement accompanied by a house valuation.

A good bail application for a serious Crown Court offence (e.g. murder, drug importation etc.) will include a combination of both security (money paid) and surety (money promised). The precise amount required varies, but must be a good proportion of the assets of the person providing the asset / money. The amount offered needs to be enough that it would financially hurt the provider if the client did not answer his bail.

(d)Conditions of non-contact with witnesses

This is something that should be offered wherever the alleged victim is said to have suffered in any type of attack, or where there are already allegations of any interference with witnesses, or a possibility of it. Cases which involve intimidation such as blackmail or allegations of threatening behaviour etc. are relevant here. A condition of non-contact with prosecution witnesses is often not enough on its own to secure bail, but can be necessary along with other conditions to achieve freedom before trial for the client.

(e) any other condition felt neccessary.

as all cases turn on their own facts , sometimes we have to think of a bail condition which will match the right conditions for you. we have in the past secured a client bail by having a condition that she does not wear a policeman’s helmet or that they do not go to licensed premises.

What constitutes a good bail application?

Of course, it is not the case that simply because the prosecution can raise an objection to bail, that means that the Judge will not grant bail. A good defence team will prepare a bail application which will predict that the prosecution will raise certain objections and answer them in advance by being prepared to attack them and offering the judge bail conditions. This can increase the chance of bail being granted, and “short-circuit” the prosecution objections.

So if you or a friend/relative needs expert criminal representation please contact my brief today.