Police Bail Pending Further Enquiries
After the police arrest someone for a criminal allegation and interview them under caution, there are often many more enquiries that should be carried out. Sometimes a suspect has given an account that creates new leads to be investigated, or the police may decide they need to take a further statement from a witness to clarify something.
As a suspect is innocent until proven guilty, the police have no power to put someone in prison while they carry out these further enquiries. They therefore release the suspect on police bail. In this situation, police bail is an agreement that the suspect will return to the police station at a specific time and date. Ideally at this later date, the police will have finished all their enquiries and have a decision whether or not to charge the suspect.
Unfortunately there are often times when a suspect answers his police bail but the case still hasn’t been finalised. The suspect is then rebailed, and has to come back again another date. This has been known to drag on for months or even years in extreme examples, as many cases can become more complicated than first anticipated.
If you are on police bail but do not return to the police station when you are supposed to, the police will circulate your details as being wanted. This means that if the police find you before you surrender to the police station, you can be arrested and taken to the police station. Depending on whether there is a charging decision, the police may not be willing to release you on bail again if you have a record of failing to surrender as required.
Police Bail to Appear at the Magistrates Court
After the police have finished their investigation and decided to charge you, they are able to release you on police bail to appear at the Magistrates Court on a specific date. The alternative to this is to keep you in police custody, usually overnight, until you can be taken to the next court session.
If you do not answer your bail as required, and do not have a reasonable excuse, you will be committing a separate offence under the Bail Act. This can carry a prison sentence in its own right, irrespective of the offence you have already been charged with. The court will issue a warrant, and you are at risk of being arrested. this may also affect whether you are given bail in any future legal proceedings.
If you have missed your Court bail date, you should contact a solicitor urgently who can give you specific advice on the best practice for your local Court. Sometimes you will have to surrender to the police station if there is a warrant, and you will be taken to court in custody. Alternatively, you may be able to attend the Court and explain why you did not attend, and they may withdraw the warrant that has been issued.
Police Bail Conditions
The police do have the power to impose certain conditions on your police bail. These conditions are imposed to reduce the risk of you committing further offences or interfering with witnesses while you are on police bail. Alternatively, the conditions can be imposed if there are concerns that you may not answer your bail at either the police station or court.
Unfortunately the police occasionally impose conditions that are not suitable or necessary. In this situation, it is possible to apply to the police or the Magistrates Court to remove or vary the conditions of your police bail. However, this is an issue that should be considered carefully with advice from a solicitor.
If you, or someone you know, are currently on police bail and want advice about your case or your bail conditions, contact us. We can recommend specialist criminal defence lawyers to help you with your case.