If you are charged with a criminal offence, chances are that you will need to apply for bail.
Bail is a written promise to appear in court on future dates as required. It is a criminal offence to breach a condition of your bail undertaking.
Bail may be granted by the police watch-house officer, or the Court.
If you are charged with a serious offence, or have a significant criminal history, the police may oppose you being granted bail. Where this occurs, it will be necessary for you to apply for bail to the Magistrates Court or the Supreme Court (as the case may be).
What is bail?
In Queensland, the law relating to bail is governed by the Bail Act 1980 (Qld). Bail is a written undertaking to the court that you promise to appear at court on the next court date.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence and you have been granted bail, this means you can remain in the community pending the conclusion of your matter.
The court can make additional conditions on your bail. For example, a residential condition that requires you to live at a stated address and you cannot move without the permission of the Police or the court.
If you are not granted bail this means that you are remanded in custody until the conclusion of your matter or until you make a further application for bail.
When does a court grant bail?
The court will only grant bail if it is satisfied you will meet and obey the conditions of the undertaking. These conditions are generally related to appearing in court for your next hearing, not breaking the law while you are on bail and not being a threat to the community.
In considering whether to grant bail, the court will consider things like:
- The seriousness of the charge/s;
- Your criminal history (including previous breaches of bail); and
- Your personal circumstances.
What kind of conditions will the court impose?
The court may impose additional conditions on you during the bail period. You may be required to agree to conditions like:
- Reporting to your local police station;
- Not having contact with certain people;
- Living at a certain address;
- Wearing a GPS tracker; or
- A surety.
The court also has the power to make a surety a condition of your bail. A surety is someone who can agree to provide a sum of money or property if you fail to appear in court when you are required.
What should I think about before applying for bail?
The court will consider different factors in deciding whether you should be granted bail. It is important to provide the court with enough information to make an informed decision about granting bail.
During a bail application, the court will want to know information about your personal circumstances. The court will consider things like:
- If you have a place to live and who you will be living with;
- If you have employment and the details of that employment;
- Your financial situation;
- Any current relationships; and
- Any current dependants.
It can benefit you to provide the court with written material in support of your personal circumstances, for example, a letter from your employer.
We strongly recommend that you seek legal advice if you want to make a bail application. Early intervention and legal advice can hugely affect the outcome.
The Bail Act 1980 applies to grants of bail in Queensland.
The general rule is that a Court will grant bail to a person unless there is a real risk that you may commit further offences, fail to appear in court as required, interfere with the administration of justice or for your own safety and wellbeing. Further, the Court will take into account various factors, including but not limited to the nature and seriousness of the charge, your previous criminal history (if any), whether you are in a “show cause” position, the availability of conditions and your connections to the community.
If bail is refused in the Magistrates Court, you have the option of applying for bail in the Supreme Court.
See also: Should you participate in a police interview?
Further information for family members can be found here.
Jasper Fogerty Lawyers are highly experienced and have conducted countless successful bail applications in the Magistrates Court and Supreme Court of Queensland.