What A Court Considers Regarding Bail

This page sets out the things that a court will look at when considering your bail application.

First and foremost, unless you have been charged with murder or some other offence for which a conviction will result in a mandatory term of imprisonment for life, a court is obliged to give you bail unless it is satisfied that one of the matters set out in section 16 of the Bail Act 1980 apply.

Section 16 of the Bail Act requires a court to refuse bail if it is satisfied that there is an unacceptable risk that:

  • You will fail to appear in court at a future date, and/or
  • You will commit further offences while on bail, and/or
  • You will endanger the safety or welfare of a victim in your matter, and/or
  • You will interfere with a witness in your matter.

Section 16 also requires a court to refuse bail if it is satisfied that you should remain in custody for your own protection.

Most often a court will be satisfied of one or more of the ‘unacceptable risks’ on the basis of your past behaviour. If you have failed to answer bail before (that is, you failed to appear in court when you were ordered to), or if you have previously committed offences while on bail, a court will be more easily satisfied that it is an unacceptable risk to release you this time.

Even if a court is satisfied that one of the criteria set down in section 16 does justify your continued detention, that is not necessarily the end of the matter. In the right circumstances the court might be persuaded that it can impose conditions on you which will sufficiently reduce the otherwise unacceptable risk that it can grant bail. With the correct preparation and negotiation, in some circumstances the police or prosecution can be persuaded to drop their objection to a grant of bail, particularly if certain conditions are accepted, and this will greatly enhance your chance of being released.

For more information on the types of conditions that can be imposed in granting bail, see types of bail conditions that can be imposed.

For information about when a person is required to ‘show cause’ as to why they should not be detained, called a ‘show cause situation’, see show cause situations.


If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.


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