Breach Of Bail (Vic)
If a person is charged and released on bail, they must sign an “undertaking of bail”. By this undertaking, the person agrees to attend court as directed and abide by conditions. A breach of bail is considered a serious offence in Victoria, by police and the courts. If a person does not comply with their bail conditions, they can be arrested without a warrant and charged. Bail in Victoria is governed by the Bail Act 1977.
There are 3 breach offences contained in the Act:
- Failure to attend in accordance with a bail undertaking;
- Contravention of any conduct condition of bail;
- Commission of an indictable offence while on bail.
Failure to answer bail
If a person does not attend court in accordance with their bail undertaking, they will be liable to a maximum penalty of imprisonment for 2 years.
Contravention of a conduct condition
Conduct conditions are conditions designed to reduce the likelihood that the person on bail will:
- endanger the safety or welfare of others;
- commit an offence;
- interfere with a witness or otherwise obstruct the course of justice;
- fail to surrender into custody as required by bail conditions.
Such conditions may, for example, require a person to report to police, live at a particular address, abide by a curfew, not contact specific people, surrender a passport, or not consume drugs or alcohol.
If a person contravenes a conduct condition, they are liable for a maximum penalty of 30 penalty units ($4003.50) or imprisonment for 3 months.
Committing an indictable offence
If a person released on bail commits an indictable offence (an offence that carries a maximum penalty of more than 2 years imprisonment), they will be liable for a maximum penalty of 30 penalty units ($4003.50) or imprisonment for 3 months.
Under section 24 of the Act, a police or protective services officer can arrest a person who has been released on bail if the officer:
- reasonably believes the person has breached or is likely to breach a bail condition;
- is notified in writing by any surety that the person on bail is likely to breach a condition to appear in court and the surety wants to end their obligation as surety;
- reasonably believes that a surety is dead or that security is no longer sufficient.
If a protective services officer makes an arrest, they must hand the person to police as soon as possible. A police officer must bring the person before a court or bail justice within 24 hours.
The court or bail justice has several options:
- revoke bail, remand the person in custody, and direct that the person be brought before the court at a specific time;
- release the person on their original undertaking;
- release the person on a new undertaking with or without sureties.
If a child is arrested, they must not be held in custody for more than 21 days.
A surety refers to a person who pledges to pay a specified amount if a person on bail does not comply with bail conditions. The surety’s undertaking is backed by a security, usually money or a house, which is forfeited in the event of a breach. The term surety can also refer to the specified amount undertaken to pay.
A surety must be aged 18 and not under any disability in law. In considering whether a proposed surety is suitable, a bail decision maker may consider the surety’s financial resources; their character and any convictions, and their proximity (in kinship or geography) to the person on bail. The bail decision-maker can require the surety to lodge in cash the amount of bail, or lodge documents of ownership and the value of property to the amount of the bail. Such documents include a certificate of title for a property, an independent valuation or a bank statement of a mortgage on a property.
If a surety dies, their estate is not liable to pay the amount of bail. If a surety applies to a court to end their obligation as a surety for a person on bail, the court can issue a warrant to arrest the person on bail and bring them before the court. If the surety is discharged from their liability, the person on bail must find another surety or security, and the court can remand in custody the person on bail until another surety or security is provided.
Police can choose to issue infringement notices for breaches of some conduct conditions. The penalty is 1 penalty unit ($133.45).
For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.