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Understanding Bail in Queensland

By 29 April 2013Criminal Law

What is Bail?

Bail is a written undertaking made by an accused promising to come to court on the date written on the undertaking. When bail is granted, the accused will be released from custody while awaiting trial or sentence for the offence charged.

The bail contains some conditions (bail conditions) that have to be complied with. This includes reporting time, residence requirement, and sometimes the requirement to undergo drug or alcohol counseling.

If you fail to comply with the bail conditions, the Court may impose consequences including a custodial sanction. Generally, the Court will issue a warrant for your arrest if you fail to appear in the Court or refuse to follow the conditions of your bail.

If you fail to turn up on the Court date stated in your bail undertaking or you failed to comply with one of the conditions, you will be held liable under Section 29 of the Bail Act (Qld) with a maximum penalty of 40 penalty units ($100 = 1 penalty unit) or 2 years imprisonment.

Who can grant bail?

Bail can only be granted by the Police and the Courts under Section 7 and 8 of the Bail Act 1980 (Qld), respectively. However, in some instances, the Supreme Court may grant bail under Section 13 of the Bail Act 1980 (Qld). Generally, bail is granted after an individual is criminally charged by way of a complaint and summons, or served with Notice to Appear, or arrested by the police.

Arrest. In Queensland, police have the power to make an arrest of a person with or without a warrant. They can also question a suspect, grant bail or bring the accused to the Magistrates Court for trial. An arrest order can be issued on the spot if you are apprehended while breaking the law or there are reasonable grounds to suspect that you are about to break the law.

Notice to Appear. A Notice to Appear is a short document which contains the details of the charges filed against you with a request that you come to Court at the specified time in the notice. This is also issued by the police by way of a Notice of Identifying Particulars with a notice to appear or summons. The person charged has to come to the police station within 48 hours for identification procedure like fingerprinting and photograph taking.

Complaints and Summons.

A complaint and summons allows police officers to formally charge you in writing, sworn an oath before a justice of the peace and serve the document to the defendant. Likewise, under Section 368 of the Police Powers and Responsibility Act (Qld), a Police officer can arrest you without charge by either giving you a Notice to Appear in person or send by mail a Complaint or Summons.

The Police procedure in granting bail

Also referred to as “watchouse bail,” the Police may grant you temporary release after you signed the bail undertaking. However, you will be required to appear before the Court on the date stated on the bail undertaking and comply with any further conditions of your release.

In addition, Section 382 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (Qld), the police officer is given the authority to issue and serve a Notice to Appear on adults charged for offences, or suspected of having committed an offence. The Notice to Appear has the same effect as a complaint and summons under Section 53 of the Justices Act 1886 (Qld).

The Magistrates Court procedure in granting bail

Generally, the Magistrates Court has the power to grant bail to a defendant in custody, enlarge the bail, or revoke any bail that has been previously granted. The Court may adjourn the proceedings from time to time and the accused may be ordered to sign a bail undertaking requiring him or her to appear on a different date. If you are granted bail by Court while in police custody, the police will have to release the accused as soon as the bail undertaking is signed.

When bail is denied

Generally, an individual charged with a criminal offence is entitled to bail. However, for some reasons, the bail privilege may be denied if the court finds that the accused is likely to commit further offences, or the accused is a “flight risk” ( concerns that he or she would not appear at the next court date)