Clarity Law

Specialist Criminal Law Firm Queensland
Wednesday, 23 November 2016 02:19

Bail in Queensland: Conditions, Compliance, and Legal Guidance

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Bail Conditions

Bail is a critically important component of the legal system in Queensland. It allow people charged with an offence to remain in the community while their matters progress through the courts. An important component of bail in the conditions that are placed on a defendant.

In this article we will look first at what bail is and how it operates and then we will dive into what conditions can be placed on a defendant’s bail and what happens if they breach that.

 

What is bail?

Bail is an undertaking or promise that if released from custody you will appear in court on the next occasion and follow all the conditions the court or police specify.

When you are charged with an offence you will be, depending on the charge, placed on bail until your court date. This means you are released on the condition that you will appear in court at the specified time and date, to answer the charge(s). In this sense, bail is like a promise or a contract to come to the court and deal with your charge.

 

When might I not need to get bail?

For less serious charges like drink driving or drug driving you may get a notice to appear in court rather than bail.

 

Who can grant bail?

In Queensland, Australia, bail can be granted by various authorities depending on the specific circumstances of the case. These authorities include:

  1. Police: In many cases, the police have the authority to grant bail. This is often done for less serious offences or when the accused is not considered a flight risk or a danger to the community.

  2. Magistrates: Magistrates have the authority to grant bail for most offences. They hold bail hearings and consider factors such as the seriousness of the offence, the accused's criminal history, ties to the community, and the likelihood of them appearing in court.

  3. Supreme Court Judges: In more serious cases or when bail has been denied at the Magistrates Court level, the accused may apply for bail in the Supreme Court.

 

What happens if I don’t get bail?

If you aren’t granted bail you will remain in jail until your charges are finalised.

 

Can the bail conditions be changed?

Yes, but in most cases you need to go back to the court to do this.

 

When I appear in court what happens to my bail?

In circumstances where you appear in court on your initial court date and adjourn your matter you can apply to have Magistrate grant you further bail or what is known as being granted bail on your own undertaking. In this circumstance you will be required to sign a bail undertaking document which will be prepared by the court once the Magistrate has set the terms of your bail and allocated your next court date. You will be provided with a copy of the bail undertaking for your records.

On subsequent court appearances for those charges you can seek to have the bail continue.  This is known as enlarging the bail.

 

Do I need to pay money to get bail?

It is rare that in Queensland someone would have to put up cash or other assets as surety. It would generally only be in very serious matters.

Other people, for instance, family members can offer surety to the courts. That person can only provide the surety if they:

  • are 18 or older
  • haven’t been convicted of an indictable offence
  • aren’t insolvent
  • have decision-making capacity
  • aren’t an involuntary patient under the Mental Health Act 2016 who is detained or likely to be detained in an authorised mental health service
  • aren’t a forensic disability client under the Forensic Disability Act 2011
  • aren’t a person for whom a guardian or administrator has been appointed under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000
  • have not been, and are not likely to be charged with an offence
  • have money or property equal to or more than the bail amount.

 

What does the court consider in deciding whether to grant bail or not?

There is a presumption that everyone should get bail. If however someone is in a show cause position or the charges are very serious the court needs to determine if bail is appropriate.

The court under section 16 of the Bail Act (Qld) must refuse bail if any of the following exist:

  1. Risk of Flight: If there is a substantial risk that the accused will not appear in court for their trial.

  2. Risk to the Community: If the court believes that releasing the accused would pose a danger to the community, for example, if the accused is charged with a violent crime.

  3. Risk of Interference with Witnesses or Evidence: If there is a substantial risk that the accused will interfere with witnesses or evidence in the case.

  4. Previous Failure to Appear: If the accused has a history of not showing up for court appearances.

  5. Seriousness of the Offence: For more serious offences, especially those carrying significant penalties, the court may be more inclined to refuse bail.

  6. Criminal History: If the accused has a history of previous offences, especially if they have breached bail conditions in the past.

  7. Potential for Further Offences: If there is a likelihood that the accused, if released on bail, would commit further offences.

 

What terms do I have to comply with on bail?

Generally the only bail condition is that you must appear in court on your court date and not commit any offences.

For more serious charges you may have other terms included in your bail. This means along with agreeing to appear in court at the allocated time and date you may also have to do things such as:

Report to a specific police station

This is known as a reporting condition. It requires the person on bail to report to a nominated police station to sign in on a daily or weekly basis. The process is generally quick and, in some cases, if the station is small then the police allow to report by being seen on one of the cameras. The difficulty often arises where the station is not open 24 hours and for whatever reason someone tries to report after hours say for example if they finish late and cant make the police station before it closes.

Be issued with a curfew in which you must be home within the specified hours

This condition requires a person not to leave their residence during certain hours. The police can do spot checks to make sure the person is home.

To reside at a certain location

This condition mandates a person must live at a certain address. Often before ordering this condition the police would have done a search of who else lives at the location.

Not leave Queensland

This is fairly obvious, the requirement does not allow someone to leave the state.

Not to contact or associate with certain people including witnesses

The court may prevent someone from contacting certain people including co-accused or witnesses. It is done to ensure that pressure is not put on someone to withdraw a statement.

 justice

What other conditions could the court require on bail?

The law provides that any conditions shall not be more onerous for the person than those that in the opinion of the court or police officer are necessary having regard to:

  • the nature of the offence,
  • the circumstances of the defendant; and
  • the public interest

The Bail Act 1980 (Qld) provides the Magistrate with very broad powers to impose special conditions, as the Magistrate sees fit, provided the Magistrate considers the imposition of the special condition or conditions is or are necessary to secure the defendant’s future appearance, and to ensure the defendant, whilst on bail, does not commit an offence, endanger the safety or welfare of members of the public or interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice

The court can decide to add extra conditions to a person’s bail other than the standard terms. Some of the those might include:

Surrendering a passport

This condition is generally used where the accused does not live permanently in Australia or has a foreign passport. It is done to ensure the accused remains in Queensland until the charges are dealt with.

Not to attend a licenced premises or event where alcohol is sold

Where the accused charge involved alcohol the court might prevent that person from attending licenced premises or somewhere that alcohol is sold. This would generally occur where the accused has a long standing alcohol issue that has been a part of previous offending.

Wear an electronic monitor device

This is generally done for people charged with serious domestic violence offences. It consists of a device attached to someone ankle which transmits its location back to a 24-hour monitoring centre.

What happens if I don’t appear in court?

Should you not appear in court the Magistrate will take that you have breached bail. In this instance the Magistrate may place a warrant out for your arrest. This warrant will be forwarded to the Police who will then in turn seek to arrest you to bring you before the Magistrate. They do this by attending your home, place of employment, or if you are pulled over in your vehicle you may be taken in from there.

What happens if I breach my bail?

Breaching specific bail conditions is very serious and will almost certainly result in a further charge being issued against you and the possibility of the bail being revoked.

In circumstances where you believe you have a legitimate reason for having breached bail you will still need to follow the same protocol of having breached your bail and explain your circumstances and reasons to the Magistrate.

If for some reason you miss your initial court date and believe a warrant has been issued for your arrest you need to surrender yourself. It is best to do this first thing in the morning as, if you attend late in the afternoon, you may be kept in the watchhouse overnight until they police and court can process you and allocate you a new court date.  There is of course the risk that the police could arrest you if you wait and take you to the watchhouse overnight anyway.

You surrender yourself by appearing at the registry of the court you were allocated to attend. There you advise them that you missed your court date and need to surrender yourself. As both the court house and the police are involved in the process it can be a lengthy period, taking on average 1-2 hours.

Breaching bail can have serious consequences on the outcome of your matter, when it is eventually heard by the Magistrate. Courts may certainly treat you more favourably if you surrender yourself to police voluntarily.

If you know you cannot make your court date, even if it is due to what you believe to be a legitimate reason, you should engage a Lawyer to appear on your behalf. We understand that medical and other emergencies happen at the last minute and we can arrange someone to appear on your behalf on extremely short notice, even the morning of your court appearance.

If you have breached bail or your bail conditions or believe that you will be unable to attend an upcoming court date contact our office to discuss options available to you. 

 

My Lawyer said I don’t need to go to court but my bail said I have to

The Bail Act allows a lawyer to appear on your behalf unless the court has said you must appear in person. Always keep in touch with your lawyer and they will tell you if you need to appear in court or not.

 

Summary

  • Bail is a crucial part of Queensland's legal system, allowing individuals charged with an offence to stay in the community while their case progresses through the courts.

  • It entails a promise to appear in court as specified by the court or police, along with compliance with specified conditions.

  • Bail may not be required for less serious charges like drink or drug driving, where a notice to appear in court may be issued instead.

  • Various authorities, including police, Magistrates, and Supreme Court judges in serious cases, can grant bail in Queensland.

  • If bail is denied, the accused will remain in custody until their charges are resolved.

  • Bail conditions can be altered, but usually require a return to court for such changes.

  • The primary bail condition is to appear in court on the designated date; additional conditions may be imposed for more serious charges.

  • The court considers factors such as flight risk, risk to the community, interference with witnesses or evidence, previous failures to appear, seriousness of the offence, criminal history, and potential for further offences in determining whether to grant bail.

  • The court may impose additional conditions, including surrendering a passport, not attending venues where alcohol is sold, or wearing an electronic monitoring device.

  • Breaching bail conditions can lead to further charges and possible revocation of bail.

  • Engaging a lawyer will allow you to get the best bail terms and conditions so that the risk of breaching bail is reduced.

 

How do I get more information or engage you to act for me? 

If you want to engage us or just need further information or advice then you can either;

  1. Use our contact form and we will contact you by email or phone at a time that suits you

  2. Call us on 1300 952 255 seven days a week, 7am to 7pm

  3. Click here to select a time for us to have a free 15 minute telephone conference with you

  4. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  5. Send us a message on Facebook Messenger

  6. Click the help button at the bottom right and leave us a message

We are a no pressure law firm, we are happy to provide free initial information to assist you. If you want to engage us then great, we will give you a fixed price for our services so you will know with certainty what we will cost. All the money goes into a trust account monitored by the Queensland Law Society and cannot be taken out without your permission.

If you don’t engage us that fine too, at least you will have more information on the charge and its consequences.

 

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Read 3177 times Last modified on Friday, 15 September 2023 19:17
Steven Brough

Steven Brough is a criminal defence lawyer and founder of Clarity Law with over 22 years experience he has appeared in almost every court in Queensland representing clients charged with criminal offences and getting them the best outcome possible.