If a person is charged with an offence, one of the first decisions a custody officer will make is whether he should be granted bail or be remanded in custody to appear before the Court. A person has a general right to bail. The Police or the Court will normally remand a person in custody if there are substantial grounds for believing that:-

  • The Defendant will fail to attend at Court
  • That the Defendant will commit other offences whilst on bail
  • That there is a risk that a Defendant will interfere with Prosecution witnesses or obstruct the course of justice

The nature and seriousness of the offence is never itself a bar to bail.

When one looks at the question of failing to appear in custody, The Magistrates or a Judge will normally look at a combination of factors including a Defendant’s character, their previous record on bail, whether they have failed to answer bail in the past, their ties to the community, the strength of the evidence as well as the seriousness of the offence.

The question of committing further offences on bail will normally be guided by a Defendant’s previous convictions and what their record has been on bail before.

The issue of interfere with witnesses and obstruct the course of justice are grounds which are normally put forward to deny bail. If a witness is a Police Officer then the chances of interference are unlikely but once again previous history has to be considered regarding the nature and proximity of any witness and whether there have been any threats or intimidation in the past.

It is important that when there are potential issues in relation to failure to surrender, committing further offences and interference with witnesses or obstruct the course of justice that there is a bail package available and this could include a number of conditions such as the following:-

  • Live and sleep at a designated address
  • Report at a local Police Station
  • Surrender a passport
  • Offer a surety or security
  • Not to apply for any travel documents
  • Abide by a curfew (electronically monitored)
  • Not to contact Co Defendants
  • Have an address out of the area
  • Not to enter a particular area
  • Not to contact witnesses
  • Attending a locality only when one attends Court or has a prior appointment with his Solicitor or Barrister