Bail in Brisbane
When a person is charged with criminal offences in Brisbane or elsewhere in Queensland, the police may grant them bail or remand them in custody. If a person is remanded in custody, the police must bring them before a court as soon as reasonably practicable so that they can make an application for bail if they want to do so. If the accused is an adult, this will occur in the Magistrates Court. If the accused is under 18, it will occur in the Children’s Court. This article deals with applying for bail in Brisbane or elsewhere in Queensland.
Unacceptable Risk and bail in Brisbane
Unless a person is charged with an offence for which a conviction will result in a mandatory term of life imprisonment (such as murder), a court must give them bail unless there is an unacceptable risk that:
- they will fail to appear in court at a future date, and/or
- they will commit further offences while on bail, and/or
- they will endanger the safety or welfare of a victim in the matter, and/or
- they will interfere with a witness in the matter.
Under section 16 of the Act, a court must refuse bail if it is satisfied that there is an unacceptable risk of any of the above. Section 16 also requires a court to refuse bail if it is satisfied that a person should remain in custody for their own protection.
Commonly, a court will be satisfied of one or more of the “unacceptable risks” based on the person’s past behaviour. If they have failed to appear in court when they were ordered to do so in the past), or if they have committed offences while on bail, a court will be more easily satisfied that releasing them poses an unacceptable risk.
Where it appears that the matters set out in section 16 of the Bail Act do justify a person’s continued detention, this does not necessarily mean they will be refused bail. Under the right circumstances, a court might be persuaded that bail conditions can be imposed that will sufficiently reduce the otherwise unacceptable risk of granting the person bail. When the defence prepares a bail application thoroughly, the prosecution can sometimes be persuaded to drop their objection to bail, particularly if certain bail conditions are accepted, and this will greatly improve the defendant’s chance of being released.
Conditions that are commonly imposed on a person’s bail in Brisbane include the following:
- A condition that the person live at a particular address;
- A condition that the person abide by a curfew;
- A condition that the person report to the police at regular intervals while on bail
- A condition that the person refrain from contacting specified people such as alleged co-offenders
- A condition that the person surrender their passport
When the court is dealing with a juvenile, it may impose more onerous bail conditions. These may include a condition that the young person attend school every day and abstain from alcohol.
Show cause applications for bail in Brisbane
The presumption in favour of granting bail in Brisbane and elsewhere in Queensland is reversed when the person is in a ‘show cause’ situation. A person in a show cause situation is required to show cause as to why their continued detention in custody is not justified. A person may find themselves in a show cause situation for one of the following five reasons:
- They allegedly committed an offence while on bail (not including simple offences);
- They allegedly committed an offence against the Bail Act 1980 (most commonly failing to appear in court or another breach of bail conditions).
- They allegedly committed an offence while armed with a weapon.
- They allegedly committed certain offences relating to organised crime.
- They allegedly committed an offence punishable by mandatory life imprisonment.
A person may also find themselves in a show cause situation if they are charged as being a member of a prescribed organisation, for example an outlaw motorcycle gang.
A person who is in a show cause situation can still be granted bail, but there is an extra barrier to a court doing so. The person is required to establish why their continued detention in custody is not justified. There are a range of ways this can be done.
A show cause bail application can be complicated, and it is unlikely to be in a person’s best interests to make the application alone. If you are in this situation, you should seek immediate legal advice.
Breach of bail in Brisbane
If a person does not comply with the conditions of their bail in Brisbane or the rest of Queensland, they can be arrested without a warrant and charged under the Bail Act. As well as having their bail revoked, a person who breaches bail in Brisbane can have a sentence imposed for the breach. The maximum penalty for breach of bail is a fine of 40 penalty units or imprisonment for two years.