What is bail?
Bail is a written promise (or ‘undertaking’) to return to court. You can apply for bail if you’re a defendant and you want to be released from custody while waiting for all charges to be dealt with.
Bail can seem complicated. But there are just three important things you need to remember:
- You need to turn up on the date you've been told to.
- You need to follow all of the rules or "conditions" you have been given while on bail.
- You must not break the law while on bail.
If you break these conditions, you could be arrested, fined or sent to prison.
If you commit a crime, or police think you have committed a crime, you will be arrested by the police. The police don’t have the power to decide if you are guilty or not, only a court can do that. However, the courts are very busy, so it might take a few weeks, a few months or sometimes longer for the courts to hear your case.
While you are waiting for the courts to decide whether you are guilty or not, you will either be held in prison (also known as in custody) or allowed to live in the community. If you are allowed to wait in the community this usually means you are on bail. If you are not sure if you are on bail, you should get legal advice.
If you are given bail you have to sign a bail undertaking promising to come to court on the date that the police or courts tell you to. If you do not sign your bail, you can be arrested. You might also have to follow other rules called bail conditions. When you sign the undertaking, you are promising to follow these conditions.
You will be given a copy of the bail undertaking so that you can remember these conditions. Click on the following links to see examples of a Form 7 - Undertaking as to bail and Form 10 - Undertaking as to bail following grant of bail by judge of the Supreme or District Court or Court of Appeal.
What are the rules or “conditions” of my bail?
If you are on bail you have to follow the rules or "conditions" of your bail.
The conditions that you have to follow when you are on bail are listed on your bail undertaking.
There are two conditions that everyone on bail has to follow:
- You have to go to court on the date you are told to go, and
- You can’t break the law. No matter how small the offence, you could end up in prison.
Your next court date is shown on the first page of your bail undertaking. There are other conditions that you might also have to follow. These are different for each person.
They could be that you:
- Have to go to a police station on set days and times
- Have to live at a set address
- Can't contact someone
- Have to be home between set hours every day (including curfew)
- Have to find someone you know with enough money or property and is willing to guarantee you will go to court in the future (‘a surety’). That person can be required by the judge or the magistrate to pay a fixed amount of money or property to the court and the court may keep that money or property if you don’t turn up to court.
There is information on this website about how to comply with these conditions.
There might be other conditions which you have to follow if you are on bail. The specific conditions which apply to you are listed on your bail undertaking. If you don’t understand any of these conditions or how to comply you need to get legal advice.
If you have any questions or concerns about your bail undertaking or bail conditions, get legal advice.