What is police bail?
If you are ever arrested for a crime you will be taken to the police station to be questioned. The police will at this point decide the next course of action after your arrest. They will either:
- Release you unconditionally.
- Release you on bail without charging you.
- Release you on bail after charging you.
- Or they will remand you.
Police bail means that you are free to leave the police station after being arrested or charged for a crime but you need to return at a specified time to either a police station or magistrates .Court while your case is being investigated or processed. The police do this to ensure they can get keep in touch with you if they need to. You will be asked to sleep and stay as a specific address during this time.
How often do people answer bail?
Bail can be monthly, weekly, or more frequently if the police feel this is necessary.
You should need to attend the Magistrates’ Court be in good time for your hearing. It is best to have a solicitor represent you if possible.
If you only need to answer at the police station it is usual to go alone. The process takes only a few minutes.
What is Conditional bail,
If you are given you might have to agree to conditions like:
- Living at a particular address.
- Not contacting certain people.
- Giving your passport to the police so you can’t leave the UK.
- Reporting to a police station at agreed times, eg once a week.
If you don’t stick to these conditions you can be arrested again and be taken to prison to wait for your court hearing.
When you attend your hearing at a magistrates’ court or a ‘virtual court’ - video conferencing in court - you might be given bail again until your trial begins.
When would I be refused bail?
The police might refuse bail if they are worried that you may not attend your hearing, that you will commit further offences, or that you will interfere with prosecution witnesses. In this case they will keep you overnight at the police station and take you to the court the next morning. This will usually be the case if you have several previous convictions or if you have failed to appear at court before, but lots of different things can affect the decision. The police might attach conditions to your bail to lower the risk of releasing you. All sorts of conditions can be made including living at a certain address, having to stay indoors between certain hours and reporting to the police station.
You’re unlikely to be given bail if:
- You are charged with a serious offence, eg armed robbery.
- You’ve been convicted of a serious crime in the past.
- You’ve been given bail in the past and not stuck to the terms.
- The police think you may not turn up for your hearing.
- The police have reason to believe you might commit a crime while you’re on bail.
Failing to answer bail
Failing to answer bail is a separate offence for which you could receive a fine, be sent to prison or both. If you do not attend your court hearing, when a new bail decision is to be made, the court may be less likely to grant you bail and you would then have to wait in prison until the conclusion of your case.
If you are too unwell to go to court then you must get a medical certificate from your GP or from the hospital which clearly states that ‘you are not fit to attend court’. You must give a copy of this medical certificate to the Court as soon as possible.
If you do not attend court a warrant will be issued for your arrest and it is likely that the police will come looking for you at your home address, or you could be stopped on the street.
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