For those accused of an offence and detained in police custody, an opportunity to apply for bail will be of paramount concern.
With the length of time that defendants are required to wait before trial being in many cases extensive, it is understandable that avoiding spending this time in custody is a priority. The Criminal Defence Solicitors at Wilford Smith specialise in providing legal representation in relation to all types of offences, and have years of experience in representing our clients at bail hearings in both the Magistrates' Court and the Crown Court.
If you find yourself accused of committing an offence, it is vital that you have access to the best available legal advice to ensure that your bail application is made with careful consideration, providing the judge with all the information they need to demonstrate that any bail conditions will be complied with. Contact our specialist Criminal Defence Team today to find out how we can help.
When will a court grant bail?
In cases where the authorities do not believe that a person will commit further offences, interfere with witnesses or obstruct the course of justice, and fail to appear at court if they are released on bail, bail can be granted. The defendant may be required to comply with conditions such as present at a police station on a particular date or not to leave the country. With some exceptions including cases involving murder, manslaughter or serious sexual offences, there is a presumption that the court will grant a person accused of committing an offence bail, this presumption being set out in section 4 of the Bail Act 1976.
When will a court refuse a bail application?
The Bail Act 1976 states that a bail application may be refused if there are “substantial grounds for belief” that certain outcomes will occur. These are that the defendant:
- will fail to appear at court if granted bail;
- will commit further offences while on bail; or
- will interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice while on bail.
It may be the case that the prosecution will object to the granting of bail on the basis of one of these grounds or some other grounds.
In cases where the court is satisfied that one of the above-mentioned outcomes will occur, and that bail should be refused, it may still be possible for the defence to offer the court additional conditions to bail to reassure the court that bail should still be granted.
Should the prosecution make an objection in relation to the granting of bail, the court will consider a number of factors depending on the basis of the objection:
Failure to appear at court
If the prosecution argues that the defendant cannot be relied upon to appear at court at a future date to answer bail, the court is likely to look at any previous instances when the defendant has not answered bail. If there is a history of ‘bail offences’ these will be available as part of the documents listing any previous convictions and it will be up to the defence solicitor to offer the court explanations as to what happened on these previous occasions, or to explain why these should not be a significant consideration.
It may also be argued that the defendant will fail to appear at court if they have family or financial ties to countries outside the UK. The defence solicitor will attempt to demonstrate to the court that an accused person has ties to their community in the UK if the prosecution seeks to rely on this argument.
A court may also be less likely to grant bail where the offence is particularly serious in nature and there is strong evidence as to the defendant’s guilt. As such, it may be seen that there is an increased chance of the defendant failing to appear at court and such circumstances can prove problematic in seeking bail for more serious offences.
Further offences while on bail
The prosecution may point to previous offences committed while on bail as grounds for refusing a bail application. If the types of offences previously committed while on bail are dissimilar or less serious than those that the person has most recently been accused of, the court may be less likely to refuse bail on these grounds. In such circumstances, a good defence solicitor will ask the court to give these previous offences less weight in considering the current bail application.
Interference with witnesses
It may be the case that the prosecution objects to the granting of bail on the grounds that they believe the defendant will try to contact prosecution witnesses with the intention of stopping them giving evidence, or to get them to change their evidence. This argument is more likely to be accepted by the court if the defendant knows or has contact with a witness, or if the offence of which they are accused involved threats or intimidation being used.
Why choose Wilford Smith?
Wilford Smith’s Criminal Defence Team takes pride in its ability to argue bail applications for our clients. We will secure and assess every item of evidence involved in your case and create a strong strategy that will show the court that bail should be granted and that any conditions imposed on your bail should be restricted. Here at Wilford Smith our Criminal Defence Team has a wealth of experience in this area. We will help prepare a strong bail application and ensure your rights are protected.
Contact our Expert Bail Lawyers in Sheffield and London
Our Criminal Defence Solicitors are based in Sheffield and London and advise and represent clients throughout England and Wales. Contact us today on 0808 169 5677 to find out how we can help.