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Applying for Bail in the Supreme Court (NT)

When a person is charged with criminal offences in the NT, they may be granted bail by police or remanded in custody. If a person is remanded in custody, they must be brought before a court as soon as possible and given the opportunity to apply for bail. While the majority of bail applications are made in the Local Court and Youth Justice Court, bail can also be sought in the Supreme Court. This article deals with applying for bail in the Supreme Court.

Bail presumptions

The likelihood of a person being granted bail is determined by the offence/s they are charged with and their criminal history and bail history.

If a person is facing very serious charges, particularly where they have been found guilty of serious offences in the past, the court must not grant bail unless the defence can satisfy the court that bail should be granted.

The offences that give rise to a presumption against bail are set out in section 7A of the Bail Act. When a person is charged with any other offence, the presumption is in favour of bail being granted. When the presumption is in favour of bail, the accused is entitled to be granted bail unless the court is satisfied that refusing bail is justified.

Should bail be granted?

The criteria for determining whether bail should be granted to a person are set out in section 24 of the Bail Act 1982. They are:

  • The probability the person will attend court, having regard to their background and community ties; any previous failures to appear at court; the circumstances of the alleged offence and any specific evidence of whether it is likely they will appear at court.
  • The interests of the person, having regard to how long they are likely to spend in custody if not granted bail; their need to be free to prepare their defence; their need to be free for other lawful purposes; whether they are a young person; their cultural background; any cognitive of mental impairment the person has and whether they are in need of physical protection.
  •  The risk the person would interfere with witnesses, evidence or jurors;
  • The risk they would commit an offence or breach their bail;
  • The risk they would pose to the safety and welfare of others.

Matters to be heard on indictment

When a person is facing charges that are to be heard on indictment and the matter has been committed to the Supreme Court, any application for bail must be made in the Supreme Court. Bail can also be granted by a magistrate in indictable matters, but this must occur before the matter has been committed to the Supreme Court.

Bail reviews

When a person is facing charges that are to be finalised in front of a magistrate and their bail application has been refused in the Local Court or Youth Justice Court, they may apply to the Supreme Court to have this decision reviewed (section 35). The prosecution may also apply to have a bail decision reviewed under this section.

The Supreme Court may affirm or vary the magistrate’s decision or substitute another decision.

The Supreme Court may refuse to review a bail decision if it considers the request to be frivolous or vexatious.

How to apply for a bail review

An application for a bail review by the Supreme Court must be made in writing and accompanied by an affidavit sworn by the accused or their legal representative, setting out the grounds on which review of the magistrate’s decision is sought.

The bail review is conducted in the form of a rehearing. The court may be given evidence or information in addition to, or in substitution for the evidence and information provided in the original bail application.

When bail is being reviewed, it is not necessary for the accused’s circumstances to have changed since the original bail application. The decision as to whether to grant bail will be made with reference to the criteria set out under section 24 of the Bail Act as in any other bail application.

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


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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