If I'm on bail, do I have to go to court?
Yes. If you don’t turn up to court, you are breaking the conditions of your bail. Your bail could be cancelled, and you could be arrested, fined or sent to prison.
You were only given bail because you made a promise that you would turn up to court so that the judge or magistrate can make a decision about your case. Your session in court to decide your bail application is known as your hearing. You must go to court on the date you’ve been asked to, even if you have plans on that day. You can find the date you need to be in court written on your bail undertaking.
How do I know when I’m supposed to go to court?
When you were given bail, you would have been given a piece of paper by the court registry or by the police. This form is called a bail undertaking and tells you:
- what date you need to go the court
- what time you need to be at court
- the address of the courthouse you need to go to for court.
How do I prepare for court?
You should plan to be at court for the whole day. If you go to court but leave before the judge or magistrate hears your case, they will say you didn’t show up. Your bail could be cancelled, and you could be arrested. Arrange your day so that you can stay as long as you are needed.
- Make sure you have all the documents which tell you why you were arrested and what you are being charged with, including your bail undertaking.If you can’t find these documents, you will still need to go to court anyway.
- Know where you have to go: Check the location of the court on a map.
- Plan how you will get there: Plan how you are going to get to court and give yourself plenty of time to find it.
- If you are going to drive, plan ahead as to where you will park.
- If you are going to catch public transport, plan your trip.
- Set aside enough time: You might need to stay at court for the whole day. Arrange to take time off work and make plans for someone to look after your children for you on the day you need to be in court.
If you are required to attend at a Magistrates Court, you will get an SMS reminder telling you to go to court.
When you get arrested you will be asked to tell the police your mobile phone number. The court may also ask for your mobile phone number if you want to get an SMS reminder for any future court dates. If you have given your mobile phone number, the court will then send you two text messages reminding you to go to court. You will get the first message one week before you have to go to court. You will also get a text message reminder the day before you have to go to court. If you don’t receive the text message reminder (for example if you get a new phone number) you will still have to go to court on the day you have been told to attend. If you change your mobile phone number or don’t want to get the messages, contact your local court.
You can ask for an interpreter to translate for you in court if English is not your first language or if you have hearing or speech difficulties.
What will happen at court?
Some people might be scared to turn up at court because they’re worried about being sent to prison. However, it is more likely that you will be sent to prison if you don’t show up at court when you’re supposed to attend.
Some people get nervous if they’ve never been to court before because it’s different to other places. There are conditions that everyone has to follow when they go to court. Legal Aid Queensland has lots of information that will help you and tell you what you need to do. Legal Aid Queensland can tell you:
- how to get ready for court (for example - what to wear)
- what to do when you get to court (for example - how to sign in and ask for a lawyer if you don’t have one)
- what to do in the courtroom (for example, where to sit, when to stand, and when to speak)
- general information about bail.
If you choose to represent yourself, the registry will type up the order, sign it and forward a copy, together with the bail undertaking for signing by you, to the appropriate jail.
If you are represented, your solicitor will need to lodge two copies of the bail order and forward a signed copy to the appropriate jail, together with the bail undertaking for you to sign.
What if my court hearing is delayed or “adjourned”?
If you go to court and the judge or magistrate decides to move your court session to another day, this is called an adjournment. If this happens the court will change the expiry date of your bail and you will stay on bail until you have to go back to court (this is called a bail enlargement). You have to follow the same bail conditions as you were following before, or any new conditions the judge or magistrate gives you. You also must go to court on the new court date the judge or magistrate gives you.
In the Brisbane Supreme Court, where no indictment has been presented, if all parties agree to adjourn the bail application then all parties to the application may submit a Form 11 - Consent adjournment of application (Uniform Civil Procedure Rules – UCPR) and email the applications list manager at firstname.lastname@example.org before 4pm on the business day before the application is to be heard.
If a matter is to be adjourned and the parties agree to a costs order, it will be treated as a consent order under UCPR 1999, s. 666.
What happens next?
- decide if you are guilty or not guilty of a crime, or
- delay the decision until a later date (this is called an adjournment).