With so many poor quality legal aid solicitors you should research and choose your lawyer carefully. Legal aid is sometimes available, but if you can afford to pay privately you should do so. We are often instructed to take over cases from other firms where it has all gone wrong with poor advice from legal aid solicitors.
Bail is not a foregone conclusion for any offence and applications must be carefully and expertly prepared. If you have a family member or friend who is currently in custody contact us now.
Case exampleOur client was accused of being concerned in a worldwide drug importation cartel linked to a £10 million bank robbery. There was evidence linking him to four other defendants.
Our bail application included an offer of a surety of money to be paid to court to guarantee his attendance at hearings, and a strong and forceful attack on the credibility of prosecution witnesses and police evidence gathering.
ResultClient granted bail, and subsequently received a not guilty verdict after a successful legal submission at trial- the other defendants were convicted and received long sentences and massive confiscation orders.
For information on Bail in the Youth Court - Click here
Bail InformationBail during court proceedings is generally presumed to be something that a defendant is entitled to except in certain circumstances (e.g. murder cases where there is now a presumption against bail). The prosecution can only make an objection before a defendant is convicted if one or more of three conditions are met. These grounds for refusing bail are:
- That the defendant will fail to appear at court to answer his/her bail
- That the defendant will commit other offences while on bail
- That there is a risk that the defendant will interfere with prosecution witnesses
Failure to appearA court will look at the following factors when deciding whether the defendant is likely to not appear to answer his or her bail:
Previous record of bailEvidence of previous "bail offences" might show this, and this is information that will often be available on the previous convictions printout of the defendant that the court will have. If there is a bad bail attendance record, convincing explanations of what happened on those occasions and reasons why they are less significant than they seem have to be presented to the court.
Community tiesIt is often harder for immigrants to get bail when accused of imprisonable offences, because Judges are concerned that they will abscond or flee to their native country to avoid conviction. If a defendant's lifestyle has an international element, ties to family and financial interests in the UK need to be shown to show that relocation to a different country is unlikely. The prosecution often fail to understand that many people live and work abroad!
Seriousness of the offence, and strength of the evidenceThis is not an official reason for a court to not grant bail, but for serious offences, the theory is that if the evidence is strong then so is the chance of a long prison sentence, and therefore the chance of the defendant not turning up to court is higher. This argument can be the single most problematic for any application for bail where a serious offence such as, murder, serious fraud or sexual offences.
Further offences on bailA court will be less likely to give bail where there is a recent history of offending while on bail for other offences. The court will have access to this information through the defendant's previous convictions (or Antecedents). The court will be less concerned if the previous offences are not of a similar or equally serious category to the offence charged. If someone is charged with robbery, but has previous offences committed while on bail for driving whilst disqualified, a good defence team will ask the court to give the previous offences less weight.
Interference with witnessesThe prosecution can object to bail on the grounds that keeping the defendant in prison will prevent him or her from interfering with prosecution witnesses, i.e. to stop them giving evidence in the trial, or getting them to change their evidence. This has to be argued on the facts, and is more likely to prevent bail if the defendant knows or has contact with the witnesses in question. In some cases threats and intimidation are part of the allegations, and this can make it easier for the prosecution to claim that witnesses are likely to be interfered with if the defendant is granted bail.
Conditions that can be imposed include the following
- Curfew / residence
The court can make a requirement that the defendant live at a certain address, often away from the alleged victim in the case. This can potentially ease the court’s concerns about the possibility of all three of the potential bail objections because:
a) the defendant is at a fixed address, so easy for the police to keep tabs on and so absconding is less likely
b) if the bail address is far away from the scene of the alleged crime then interference with witnesses is less likely
c) many criminal offences happen at night and outside the home (e.g. pub fights etc.) residence far away from the scene of the alleged crime or a curfew requirement can keep a defendant away from potentially criminal situations so further offences are less likely
This allows the police to keep aware of the location of a defendant as they will have to report to a police station. This means that the police will be made aware if the defendant absconds.
- Surety / Security
Surety and security are important for a bail application for more serious offences. They are financial promises made to the court usually by family members or friends of the defendant, to guarantee his or her attendance at court whilst on bail.
- Security is money paid into court before the defendant is allowed out on bail.
This must be paid into court in cash or other cleared funds.
Surety is money promised to the court by third parties and only paid if the defendant absconds.
This can be in the form of money left in the third party’s bank account, or other assets (such as equity in a house).
Documentary evidence must be provided to the court showing that this money is available, or that assets equivalent to that amount exist. This could be in the form of a bank statement or a mortgage statement accompanied by a house valuation.
A bail application for a serious Crown Court offence (e.g. murder, drug importation etc.) should include a combination of security (money paid) and surety (money promised). The amount required varies, but must be a good proportion of the assets of the person providing the asset / money. The amount offered needs to be enough to convince the judge that it would financially hurt the provider if the defendant did not answer his bail.
- Conditions of non-contact with witnesses or other individuals including co-defendants
This is something that should be offered wherever the alleged victim is said to have suffered in any type of attack, or where there are already allegations of any interference with witnesses, or a possibility of it. Cases which involve intimidation such as blackmail or allegations of threatening behaviour etc. are relevant here. A condition of non-contact with prosecution witnesses is often not enough on its own to secure bail, but can be necessary along with other conditions to achieve liberty for the defendant.
Of course, it is not the case that simply because the prosecution can raise an objection to bail that means that the Judge will not grant bail. A good defence team will prepare a bail application which will predict that the prosecution will raise certain objections and answer them in advance by being prepared to attack them and offer bail conditions. This can increase the chance of bail being granted, and cancel out the prosecution objections.
EDWARD HAYES have been defending cases for over 50 years and are nationally ranked as one of the best firms in the country.
As with most legal work of any description, there is no substitute for a thoroughly prepared application. Good preparation of a bail application will raise avenues of inquiry that solicitors should follow. For most Crown Court cases, the defendant will only have one chance to make a bail application, so every piece of background supporting evidence has to be presented to the court, and the notice of application sent to the court before the hearing must include all the supporting documentation. If an important document relating to, say, a mortgage statement for a surety is not provided at this stage, there may not be a second chance. This may delay the application. It can be sometimes be unpleasant but essential that the application waits a few days so that the defendant does not spend several months in custody after an unsuccessful bail application. There are only very limited avenues of appeal to the High court following Tony Blair's savage attacks on the criminal justice system .
Bail is not a foregone conclusion for any offence, and applications must be carefully and expertly prepared. Jail is a dreadful place to be and with so many poor quality legal aid solicitors around many innocent people are languishing in prison awaiting trial.
Jail is a dreadful place to be and with so many poor quality legal aid solicitors around many innocent people are languishing in prison awaiting trial.
Contact EDWARD HAYES now if you have a family member or friend who is currently in custody.