Bail is the release of a person who has been charged with, but not yet convicted or acquitted of, a criminal offence. Bail in Queensland is governed by the Bail Act 1980 which maintains a series of presumptions (for and against) in relation to bail, depending on the charges against, and circumstances of, the person coming before the court.
After a person is arrested and charged with a criminal offence, bail is the first matter which must be considered. The Act requires that a decision be made either by a police officer (normally at a watch-house), or a court, within 24 hours of a person being taken into police custody and charged. Bail decisions are normally made by a court, except in cases of minor offending for which police bail is often granted shortly after charge.
What powers does the court have?
The Act gives a court the power to do one of three things in relation to bail:
- dispense with bail, also called allowing a person to go at large, which means to release them from custody without any conditions whatsoever, or
- grant bail, that is, release the person from custody, either with or without conditions, or
- refuse bail, meaning that a person remains in custody on remand.
There is a presumption in favour of bail for most offences, in most circumstances. This means that a court must grant bail unless certain legislated criteria justify not doing so.
If you, or a family member, have been refused bail then you should contact a lawyer immediately because bail applications are often strongest in the early stages of a case while the prosecution case is still weak, or is a long way from completion.
What A Court Considers
A court that is dealing with a bail application will consider whether the applicant is likely to attend court to answer their charges, whether they have a history of offending, their circumstances and the nature of the allegations.
Types of Conditions That Can Be Imposed
The bail conditions that are imposed by a court will depend on the circumstances of the person applying for bail and the nature of the allegations against them. They may include a residence condition, conditions relating to alcohol or drugs, or a condition that the accused must surrender their passport while on bail.
Show Cause Situations
In some situations, a person may be required to show cause why they should be granted bail. This means that the presumption in favour of bail is reversed and the court must not grant bail unless the applicant can demonstrate compelling reasons why their continued detention is not justified.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.