Bail Presumptions (NT)

In the Northern Territory, decisions about bail are governed by the Bail Act 1982. A person may be granted (or refused) bail by the police or by a court. The process for deciding whether a person is granted bail is determined by the bail presumption that applies. This page deals with bail presumptions in the Northern Territory.

What are bail presumptions?

When a person applies for bail, depending on the offences they are charged with and their criminal and bail history, there may be a presumption in favour of the grant of bail or there may be a presumption against bail.

When there is a presumption in favour of bail, the court will grant bail unless the prosecution can show that bail should not be granted. When there is a presumption against bail, the court will refuse bail unless the defence can show that bail should be granted. The court will make its decision with reference to the criteria to be considered in bail applications that are set out in section 24 of the Bail Act 1982.

There are different bail presumptions for adults and for young people.

Presumption against bail (adults)

Under section 7A of the Bail Act 1982, there is a presumption against bail where an adult is charged with certain offences, including:

  • Murder
  • Arson
  • Sabotage
  • An offence against the Misuse of Drugs Act that is punishable by seven years imprisonment or more – for example, cultivation of a traffickable quantity of a prohibited plant.

There is also a presumption against bail where an adult commits a serious harm or breach DVO offence if they have a previous finding of guilt for any of these offences.

If a person is applying for bail and the presumption is against, they (or their lawyer) will have to convince the court that bail should be granted having regard to the bail criteria set out in section 24.

Presumption in favour of bail (adults)

Under section 8 of the Bail Act 1982, there is a presumption in favour of the grant of bail when an adult is charged with any other offence. However, if the person has already been convicted of the offence, this presumption does not apply.

If a person is applying for bail and the presumption is in favour, the police or court can only refuse bail if it is satisfied that bail should not be granted having regard to the criteria set out in section 24.

Young people

When a young person applies to the court for bail, they do so in the Youth Justice Court. There is a presumption in favour of bail for a young person unless:

  • The youth has committed a serious breach of bail
  • The youth has already been convicted of the offence

If a young person is applying for bail, the police or court can only refuse bail if satisfied that bail should not be granted having regard to the criteria set out in section 24.

Criteria to be considered in bail applications

Under section 24 of the Bail Act 1982, the only matters that a bail decision-maker may take into account are:

  • The likelihood of the person appearing in court
  • The interests of the person, including how long they are likely to spend on remand and their need to prepare for court
  • The risk that the person would interfere with evidence, witnesses or jurors if released
  • The risk that the person would endanger the safety or welfare of a person if released
  • The risk that the person would commit an offence, a breach of the peace or a breach of bail if released.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.  

Author

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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