Bail is a release on a promise to return for trial. The key legislation includes:
; Bail Act (1976) as amended by Criminal Justice and Court Services
; Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984) as amended by the
Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994) and the Criminal
Justice Act (2003).
Bail Act 1976 governs bail granted by the courts. Under this act there is a statutory presumption that bail be granted. This means
that there is an automatic presumption that the defendant will be released by the court pending trial. However there are grounds for refusal – in which case the defendant would be remanded into custody pending trial. These include a belief that the defendant would:
; commit another offence whilst on bail or
; interfere with witnesses or
; obstruct the course of justice or
; should be in custody for his/her own welfare or
; has previously failed to surrender to bail and the court believes
this may happen again.
The Criminal Justice and Court Services Act (2000) states that a court considering the question of bail must take into account any drug misuse by the defendant:
Where a court does grant bail, it can impose bail conditions on the defendant e.g. he/she:
; Must surrender passport
; Must report at intervals to a police station
; Must not interfere with witnesses
; Must reside at a certain address
Under the 1976 Bail Act the police can arrest without a warrant anyone suspected of breach of bail conditions.
Criteria to be Considered
When the court is considering bail, all relevant factors must be taken into account, including:
; the nature and seriousness of the offence
; the character of the defendant
; his/her associations and community ties
If bail is refused by a magistrates’ court, then in limited
circumstances an application may be made to the Crown Court. An application may also be made to vary the conditions of bail.