Understanding Bail

Understanding Bail

The Law can be confusing to navigate through, and at Paul Vale Criminal Law, we endeavour to help you to attain greater understanding about the criminal justice system. By providing you with specialised insight and up to date information, we hope to clarify the process of what Bail is in the Melbourne Criminal Law System 

What is Bail?

Bail is the temporary release of an accused person awaiting trial. If you have been arrested and interviewed by the Victorian Police in relation to criminal matters you may be charged and released on Bail, or held in custody until a successful Bail application has been conducted. Due to the fact that your personal freedom is in jeopardy, it is highly advisable that you obtain a legal representative to conduct your bail application.

Categories of Bail

The Bail Act 1977 provides every accused person with the presumption of being released on Bail. However this presumption is not absolute and the Bail Act delineates offenders into categories referred to as ‘Unacceptable Risk’, ‘Show Cause’ and ‘Exceptional Circumstances’.  The category you fit into is determined by factors such as

  • The offence(s) you are charged with,

  • The seriousness of the alleged offending,

  • Your personal circumstances

  • You previous criminal history.

Unacceptable Risk’

The Police are alleging that you are at risk of not attending Court when required, committing an offence whilst on Bail, putting the community’s safety and welfare at risk and or interfering with witnesses or obstructing justice. The onus is on the Police to convince the Court that you are not an unacceptable risk of any of the preceding factors.

‘Show Cause’

You have been charged with an offence listed under section 4(4) of the Bail Act (e.g. Aggravated Burglary, Arson Causing Death, any offence involving the use of a weapon, Traffick/Cultivate or Import illegal drugs in less than a commercial quantity) or you have been charged with an indictable offence whilst you were on bail for a separate indictable offence. The onus now shifts to you demonstrating to the court why bail should be granted to you and that remaining in custody is not justified.

‘Exceptional Circumstances’

You have been charged with an offence listed under section 4(2) of the Bail Act (e.g. Murder, Treason, Traffick/Cultivate or Import Large Commercial or Commercial Quantity of illegal drugs). You will need to demonstrate that you have exceptional circumstances and that you are entitled to bail. The standard of proving that you possess exceptional circumstances is extremely high and getting bail under this category is most difficult to achieve.

Bail Conditions

If you are released on Bail, you may only need to make a formal promise (an undertaking) to attend Court when directed to. In other circumstances, you may be required to adhere to certain conditions such as:

  • Living at a fixed address;

  • Exclusion from certain locations;

  • Not associating with certain individuals;

  • Reporting to a Police Station on a regular basis;

  • Surrendering your Passport, and not attending any points of international departure (i.e. airport), and/or;

  • Providing a surety

A surety condition requires that a person who is at least 18 years old to provide a financial guarantee to the court that your bail conditions will be adhered to. The surety amount does not only have to be paid in cash but property (eg: real estate) may also be used. The person providing the surety must be able to prove to the court that they own the relevant property and what its value is.

What if I do not comply with my Bail?

It is a criminal offence to contravene any conditions of Bail that relate to your conduct (other than the attendance and participation in bail support programs), for example, not presenting yourself at a designated Police Station within the timeframes required.

It is also a criminal offence to commit an indictable offence whilst on Bail and to fail to attend Court while on Bail.

If you have been released on bail always attend Court when directed to.

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