Bail is a pre-trial release of an accused in criminal proceedings. Generally, every person who has been charged with an offence is entitled to a bail hearing no later than 48 hours after the charge but it should be heard as soon as is practicable.
Bail may be granted by a police officer (station bail), magistrate or High Court judge depending on the circumstances. Bail may be granted on the payment of a bond (specified sum) or on the recognizance of the accused (a pledge made by the accused as an assurance that he will observe the conditions of bail).
Station Bail may be granted by a police officer on the accused’s own recognizance to appear before a court if the accused is in custody without a warrant and/or where the accused is charged with an offence that is not punishable with imprisonment.
If the offence which the defendant allegedly committed is a summary offence to be tried before a magistrate without a jury, and is punishable with imprisonment, the police officer may grant bail to the defendant on the terms as the officer thinks are necessary to guarantee the appearance of the defendant before a court at such place, date and time as the officer appoints.
Most bail applications are made before a magistrate who cannot grant bail to a person charged with: hijacking under the Hijacking Act, murder, treason, robbery with violence or robbery with aggravation involving the use of a firearm, unlawful possession of firearm or ammunition, unlawful importation of a firearm or ammunition, and unlawful possession of explosives.
In determining whether to grant bail to the accused, the court or police officer will consider:
– the accused’s compliance with any previous bail conditions;
– the number (if any) of prior convictions which the accused has;
– the nature and seriousness of the offence;
– the character, background and community ties of the defendant;
– the strength of the evidence against the defendant; and
– any other factor which is relevant in the opinion of the court or police officer.
This article does not replace specific legal advice and is only intended to explain general legal concepts