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Bail in Western Australia

Options for release after being charged with a criminal or traffic offence

When you are charged with a criminal offence, the police can either:

  1. Release you and send you a court hearing notice;
  2. Release you and send you a summons to attend court;
  3. Release you on police bail and provide you with your first court date; or
  4. Refuse bail and refer your matter to a Magistrate in court.

Court hearing notice

Court hearing notices are used for some minor charges. You are generally sent these documents by post and you can choose to attend court or to have the matter dealt with in your absence.

You may also have a lawyer appear for you in court on your behalf, with or without you present.

Summons

A summons is also used for relatively minor charges and requires you to attend court in person. Sometimes, once you attend court, the summons can be replaced by bail.

Police bail

For more serious charges, a court hearing notice and summons may be inappropriate, so the police must consider whether to release you on bail.

Bail can be given by the police, or granted by a court.

If the police consider that it is inappropriate to release you on bail, they will refuse police bail and you will be brought to court at the first reasonable opportunity (usually the day you are charged or the next morning) so that you have the opportunity to ask the Magistrate to release you on bail. It's always a good idea to have a defence lawyer represent you in this case.

What is bail?

Bail is used for more serious charges, and if you are on bail, you must attend all of the court hearings in person or you will be charged with an additional offence of breaching bail. If you do not attend, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest.

Being released on bail means that you are released into the community pending your court case being determined and finalised. You can ordinarily live at home and go to work, but you must follow strict conditions.

Common bail conditions include:

  1. A personal undertaking (set as a certain amount of money), which is a written promise to the court that if you fail to attend your court hearings, you will forfeit that amount of money to the State;
  2. A surety, which is a third person (usually a family member of friend), who also undertakes to forfeit a certain amount of money to the State if you do not attend your court hearings. A surety can range from a few hundred dollars for minor charges to hundreds of thousands for extremely serious charges. The surety can extend to the next court hearing only, or for the entirety of the time you are on bail;
  3. A residential condition that requires you to reside at a certain address;
  4. A reporting condition that requires you to report to your local police station on set days of the week;
  5. A curfew, which means you must be at your house between certain hours, usually during the night. It is not unusual for the police to attend at your house during the curfew hours to make sure you are home;
  6. Protective bail conditions, which prohibit you from approaching or communicating with certain people such as the alleged victim and witnesses;
  7. A requirement to surrender your passport to the court and not apply for any new passports; and
  8. A condition requiring you to stay in Western Australia and prohibiting you from approaching any point of departure, such as the domestic and international airports, and any sea ports.

For very serious charges, the court may also require a cash deposit. This means you must actually pay money to the court before you are released. This condition is fairly uncommon.

Other than the standard conditions above, the court can also set other conditions that are considered appropriate in the circumstances. For example, prohibiting you from approaching a certain place or prohibiting you from doing certain things, such as consuming alcohol.

If you are released on bail with conditions, you can apply to change those conditions in court at a later date.

Home detention

A further option for bail is home detention, which confines you to your home with an electronic monitoring device. A report will be ordered by the court to comment on the suitability of the address proposed, and will require your bail application to be adjourned whist this is done.

Committing an offence while on bail

If you are alleged to have committed a serious offence whilst on bail, you may fall under Schedule II, which means that you will have to show exceptional circumstances in order to be released on bail again.

How we can help

It is important to obtain legal advice before making an application for bail in court, because, if you are refused bail by a Magistrate or Judge, you cannot simply keep reapplying for bail unless your circumstances have changed since the last time you applied for bail.

Chambers Legal deal with ordinary bail applications and Schedule II bail applications regularly. Contact us for advice on your particular circumstances.

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