Breach of Bail in the ACT
If a person is charged with a serious offence in the Australian Capital Territory, they may either be remanded in custody or released on bail by the police or by a court pending the finalisation of the charge. The laws about bail in the ACT are in the Bail Act 1992. A person breaches their bail if they fail to comply with the conditions of bail. A breach may consist of failing to appear in court when required or of failing to comply with other conditions. This article deals with breach of bail in the ACT.
Arrest for breach of bail
If an accused person has been granted bail in any state or territory in Australia, a police officer in the ACT can arrest them without a warrant if the officer believes on reasonable grounds that the person has either failed to comply, or will fail to comply with a bail condition. The accused person must then be taken before a court as soon as is practicable.
Once a person is bought to court for breach of bail, the court may take any of the following actions:
- For an accused person who is on a bail that was granted in the ACT, revoke the bail, continue the bail and/or vary the bail.
- For an accused person who was granted bail elsewhere in Australia, release them with no further conditions imposed on their conduct (they will still be subject to the bail conditions set in their grant of bail); grant them bail on conditions that the court thinks are appropriate; or keep them in custody while a warrant is obtained from the state or territory that they are granted bail in.
A police officer can apply to the court for the issue of a warrant to arrest an accused person who has failed to comply with their bail if the bail was granted in the ACT and:
- they have not complied with that bail, and
- they are in another state or territory.
It is an offence under section 49 of the Bail Act for a person who is on bail to fail to come to court when they are required to. The maximum penalty is a fine of 200 penalty units or imprisonment for two years or both. Failing to attend court when required to by a bail undertaking can also affect the granting of any future applications for bail.
It is a defence to the charge of breach of bail if the person has a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the bail.
It is an offence in the ACT for anyone to reimburse or compensate someone for their liability as a surety on an accused person’s bail, or agree to do so. The maximum penalty is a fine of 200 penalty units or imprisonment for two years or both. A person who is, or agrees to be, reimbursed or compensated also commits an offence. It does not matter if the person is not accepted as a surety, or if the agreement is made before or after they applied to become a surety. It also does not matter whether the agreement is for compensation in money or anything else.
If an accused person has a bail condition that requires a sum of money to be deposited and they fail to appear in court when they are required to, the amount is forfeited to the ACT. If the amount has not been deposited, the court may order that the person is required to pay the amount to the Territory. The person will then be sent a notice to pay. If, after 28 days, the amount has not been paid it may be recovered as if it were a fine, no matter how large the sum is.
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