Unconditional Court Bail, Bail with Conditions, Bail with a Tag, Crown Court Bail,
In most Magistrates’ Court cases, it is not possible to complete the case at the first appearance. If an allegation is denied, the case will be adjourned for a trial; if the charge is admitted, the Court may need a report from the Probation Service to consider all the sentencing options available to them. Alternatively, the case could be sent to the Crown Court for either trial or sentence. One of the most important questions a defendant has is whether he will be granted Court bail.
Unconditional Court Bail
When a case is adjourned, the Court will usually release the defendant on bail. This means they are free to leave and carry on their day-to-day life, but they are under a duty to return to the Court (surrender to their bail) on a specific date. This is referred to as “unconditional bail.”
Conditional Court Bail
If the Prosecution have concerns about whether a defendant should be granted bail because of these risks, the Court may only agree to bail the defendant on certain conditions. Examples of common bail conditions are:
- Residence at a specific address,
- Exclusion from going to a certain street or area,
- Not to contact prosecution witnesses,
- Reporting at a specific police station at certain times during the week, or
- A curfew, to be inside a specified address between certain hours- this can either be checked by police attending (a doorstep requirement) or with an electronic tag
Remand in Custody
In certain circumstances, the Court will remand the defendant into custody until the next hearing. This means that they would be kept at a prison or Young Offenders’ Institution (for defendants aged 18-21). This should only happen if the Court has serious concerns about the following issues, and adding bail conditions is not sufficient:
- Further offences- The defendant may be likely to reoffend if released on bail, and so should be kept in custody to prevent that.
- Failing to attend Court- The defendant may try to abscond before trial, and the only way to prevent this is to remand them in custody.
- Witness interference- The defendant has close links to the alleged victim, and the only way to prevent them from trying to influence the witness is to keep them in custody.
Breach of Bail Conditions
If a defendant is released on conditional bail, but fails to comply with one of the conditions, they are liable to be arrested. While breaching bail conditions is not an offence in itself, it is taken very seriously as it shows a failure to comply with Court Orders. If someone is arrested for breaching their bail conditions, they will be brought to Court by the police and bail may be refused. This means they will be remanded in custody, and have to remain in prison until their case is finished.
Failing to Surrender
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.
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.