Bail is the temporary release of a person who is a suspect in an investigation into a crime (police bail), or an accused person awaiting trial (court bail).
Bail can sometimes be granted on condition that a sum of money is presented to guarantee the person coming to court.
In April 2017 legislation changed the way that police bail is managed. The police now have the ability to release you pending further investigation instead of being placed on bail. This means that you are not under the same obligations as bail, but will remain under investigation following your release from custody. You will be notified once the investigation has been concluded, and may received a charge through the post with a requirement to attend court.
If you are arrested in connection with an ongoing investigation, but are not charged with an offence, you may be granted bail and asked to return to the police station at a later date.
However, if you are charged with an offence, then you will be released on court bail until your hearing. You may be granted an unconditional or conditional bail. If you are granted a conditional bail, you will have to agree to certain conditions which will be explained to you.
If you break any of the conditions set out in your court bail, you may be arrested and brought before a magistrates' court. You may be charged under the Bail Act 1976 and could be remanded in custody until your trial begins.
When you are granted bail you will be told what police station you will need to return to.
You're unlikely to be given bail if:
- You are charged with a serious offence, such as attempted murder
- You have been previously convicted of a serious crime
- You have been given bail in the past and not stuck to the terms
- Officers may think that you will not turn up for your court hearing
- Officers may think you may commit a crime while on bail
You are allowed to appeal to change your conditions of bail at the magistrates' court, or if you have been remanded in custody, you can apply for bail at the court. The court may grant you bail, or refuse bail and keep you remanded you in custody.
You can apply for bail twice at the magistrates' court. If this fails, you can apply for bail again at the crown court.
If you are not granted bail, there is a limit to how long you can spend remanded in custody without prosecution:
- If you are on a trial for an offence at a magistrates' court, you can stay a maximum of 56 days in custody
- If you are getting charged with a matter for the crown court, you can stay a maximum of 70 days in custody
- If you are charged with offence and having a trial at crown court, you can stay a maximum of 112 days in custody
If the prosecution want an extension of these dates, they must be fully explained for the court to grant it.
- You can find out more about being granted bail by visiting the government’s website.