When you get bail, you are released from custody in exchange for your promise to appear in court later to face the charges against you. In order to get bail, you may be required to agree to conditions such as:
- reporting to the police station
- living at a certain place
- having someone act as a surety for you.
If you fail to follow your bail conditions, you may be fined up to 30 penalty units or sentenced to up to three months in jail. You can also be issued an infringement notice by the police for minor violations of your bail conditions. For instance, they may do this if you appear late at the police station. Your criminal record will be enhanced as a result of your breach.
How to get bail
If you are arrested, the police may release you on bail.
If you wish, you may also request bail. The police must take you to court within a reasonable period of time so that you may apply for bail and the magistrate will make the decision.
A bail justice can be arranged at the station by the police if the court has been closed. Bail justices are independent individuals (not police officers) who decide whether a person should be released on bail. If you are refused bail by the bail justice, you must remain in custody until you can be taken to court by the police.
Help applying for bail
It is recommended that you consult a lawyer if you need assistance in applying for bail in court. They can give you advice about your chances of being granted bail. They may apply for bail on your behalf or tell you whether it would be best if you applied on your own.
Using a lawyer can also help you make a bail application if the magistrate does not grant bail the first time. In that case, you will remain in custody until a new court date is set.
If you have a cognitive disability or mental illness, the police officer must get an independent third person to be with you if a bail justice comes to the police station to do the bail hearing.
Signing an ‘undertaking of bail’
It is required that you sign a document known as an undertaking of bail before you are allowed to leave the police station. By signing this document, you agree to attend court on a certain date and agree to any other conditions of the bail.
If you are charged
You may be charged with a criminal offence, which requires you to appear in court.
You will be served with a summons and charge sheet or a notice to appear by the police. The police will give you both documents, which describe the offence you are suspected of committing. The documents will inform you when you have to appear in court. The steps required will depend on the type of document you receive from the police.
Get legal advice as soon as you receive a summons or notice to appear.