This article Victorian Bail Laws: A guide to understanding your rights is written by Matt McLellan, Senior Associate, Emma Turnbull Lawyers, Specialist Criminal Lawyer.
With a remarkable track record and a steadfast commitment to justice, Matt makes a significant impact as a Senior Associate Defence Lawyer in our office, leaving a lasting impression on both his clients and industry colleagues.
Introduction: This guide aims to provide you with an overview of bail laws in the Victorian legal system. Understanding your rights and responsibilities regarding bail is crucial, whether you are facing criminal charges or supporting someone who is.
Understanding Bail: Bail is a legal concept that allows a person charged with a criminal offence to be released from custody while awaiting trial. It serves as a guarantee that the person will appear in court when required.
The Bail Act: The law with respect to bail is set out in the Bail Act 1977 (Victoria). The purpose of the Act is to provide a legislative framework for the making of decisions as to whether a person accused of an offence should be granted bail, with or without conditions, or remanded in custody. The Parliament recognises the importance of:
- Maximising the safety of the community and persons affected by crime to the greatest extent possible; and
- Taking account of the presumption of innocence and the right to liberty; and
- Promoting fairness, transparency and consistency in bail decision making; and
- Promoting public understanding of bail practices and procedures.
Types of Bail: In Victoria, there are various types of bail that can be granted, as outlined in the Bail Act 1977 (Victoria):
- Police Bail: Police officers have the authority to grant bail at the time of arrest or charge. This type of bail is usually for minor offenses and is subject to conditions.
- Court Bail: Bail can be granted by a court during a bail hearing. The court may impose conditions to mitigate risks and ensure the accused person’s compliance with their bail obligations.
- Surety Bail: A surety is someone who agrees to take responsibility for the accused and ensure their compliance with bail conditions. They may be required to provide a financial guarantee to secure the accused person’s release.
Bail Considerations: When determining whether to grant bail, the court takes several factors into account, as outlined in the Bail Act 1977 (Victoria). Some of the considerations include:
- Risk to Community: The court assesses the risk the accused poses to the community, considering factors such as the seriousness of the offense, criminal history, and potential danger to others if released.
- Risk of Flight: The court evaluates whether there is a significant risk that the accused might not appear in court if granted bail. Factors such as ties to the community, employment, and previous failures to appear are considered.
- Protection of the Accused: The court also considers the safety and well-being of the accused, particularly in cases where the accused is vulnerable or at risk.
Bail Conditions: When bail is granted, certain conditions may be imposed to ensure the accused person’s compliance with the legal process and protect the community. Common conditions include:
- Residence: The accused may be required to live at a specified address and notify the court of any changes.
- Reporting: Regular reporting to a police station or relevant authority may be mandated.
- Surety: In some cases, a surety may be required to guarantee the accused’s compliance with bail conditions.
- Non-association: The accused may be prohibited from contacting specific individuals involved in the case.
- Surrender of Passport: In matters involving flight risk, the accused may be required to surrender their passport.
Breach of Bail Conditions: Failure to comply with bail conditions can lead to serious consequences. It may result in further charges, the revocation of bail, or forfeiture of any surety provided. It is essential to adhere to the conditions imposed and seek legal advice if any concerns arise.
Preparing for a Bail Application: How Families Can Help: Support from family members can play a crucial role in preparing for a bail application. Here are some ways families can assist:
- Gather Information: Help gather all relevant documents and information related to the accused person’s ties to the community, employment, and any other factors that may support their bail application.
- Seek Legal Advice: Encourage the accused person to consult with a qualified criminal defence lawyer who can guide them through the bail application process and provide appropriate legal representation.
- Character References: Assist in gathering character references from individuals who can vouch for the accused person’s good character, reliability, and community involvement.
- Addressing Bail Concerns: Work with the legal team to address any concerns raised by the court regarding flight risk or potential danger to the community. This may involve proposing appropriate bail conditions or providing evidence to alleviate these concerns.
- Court Support: Attend court hearings to show support for the accused person and help them navigate the legal process.
Note: This information serves as a general guide only and should not be considered legal advice. For accurate and individual information, please book a consult with one of our specialist lawyers.
About the Directors:
Emma Turnbull is a passionate advocate for justice, equality, and empowerment. With her deep commitment to making a positive impact, she has dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of individuals facing prosecution by the State and promoting social change.
“I firmly believe that each and every one of us has the power to create meaningful change. It starts by finding our voices, standing up for what is right, and ensuring that everyone, whether they have a five day or three month jury trial, receives a fair hearing. My goal is that win or lose, every client feels they have received a fair trial, with their voice heard and their best defence put forward.”
Adrian Lewin is a seasoned criminal lawyer renowned for his unwavering dedication to defending the rights of individuals facing legal challenges. With his extensive experience and expertise in criminal law, Adrian has successfully represented clients in a wide range of complex cases. Known for his strategic thinking and meticulous preparation, he tirelessly fights for justice, ensuring that every client receives the strongest possible defence.