The Bail Act 2013 commenced on 20 May 2014. The Bail Amendment Act 2014, which amends the Bail Act in several important areas, commenced on 28 January 2015: LW 16.01.15.
The intention of the amending Act is evident from its text and confirmed in the extrinsic materials (s 34(1)(a) Interpretation Act 1987 (NSW)). In the Second Reading Speech, the Hon Mr Brad Hazzard MP, Attorney General and Minister for Justice stated:
The review made a number of recommendations to strengthen provisions in the [Bail] Act. The Government has accepted all the recommendations resulting from the review. These are common-sense changes. The potential risk to the community posed by an accused offender is placed front and centre when bail decisions are made. The key feature of the bill is the increased stringency it applies to bail decisions for those charged with offences that pose significant risks to the community or the administration of justice. It requires people charged with these offences to show cause why their detention is not justified. The new show cause requirement will operate in addition to the existing unacceptable risk test. The unacceptable risk test will also be consolidated from a two-stage test to a simpler one-stage test. (Bail Amendment Bill 2014, Legislative Assembly, 13 August 2014, p 30504)
Concerning the purpose of the Bail Act 2013, s 3(1) provides:
The purpose of this Act is to provide a legislative framework for a decision as to whether a person who is accused of an offence or is otherwise required to appear before a court should be detained or released, with or without conditions.
Bail is defined in s 7 of the Act as “authority to be at liberty for an offence”, subject to limitations in s 14: s 7(1). Bail can be granted to any person accused of an offence: s 7(2).
Section 14 limits that entitlement in the following manner:
bail is not met until a person signs a copy of a bail acknowledgment and it is given to a bail authority and all pre-release requirements for bail (including character acknowledgments under s 27) are met: s 14(1)
a person is not entitled to be at liberty on those occasions the person is required to appear before a court: s 14(2).
Under s 85(1), a court may also revoke bail when bail security deposited under a bail condition is no longer intact. The court cannot revoke bail unless the person has been given written notice (s 85(3)(a)) and 28 days to demonstrate to the court either that the bail is still intact or to arrange for the deposit of replacement security: s 85(3)(b).
A bail decision may be made in respect of a person accused of an offence: s 8(1).
Bail decisions may also be made for the following persons who are not accused of any offence: s 8(3) and Sch 1 of the Act:
proceedings for a failure to comply with conditions of a good behaviour bond
Children’s Court proceedings for failure to comply with good behaviour bonds, probation orders or outcome plans under the Young Offenders Act 1997
applications to extend/revoke community service orders for adults and children
persons arrested by warrant for failing to comply with subpoenas or non attendance as witnesses under the following Acts: Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998, Coroners Act 2009 and the Criminal Procedure Act 1986
persons arrested under an interstate arrest warrant, s 88 Service and Execution of Process Act 1992 (Cth).
Bail decisions cannot be made if substantive proceedings for an offence have concluded and no further substantive proceedings are pending: s 8(2).
The Bail Act 2013 does not apply to overseas extradition proceedings: see s 49B Extradition Act1988 (Cth).
The Bail Act does not apply to those offences in the Criminal Code (Cth) set out in s 15AA Crimes Act 1914 (Cth), which provides for a presumption against bail for particular Commonwealth offences.
Once bail is granted, it operates until either it is revoked, or the substantive proceedings are concluded: s 12(1). For that reason, there is no longer a requirement to order “bail to continue”.
Under s 12, bail is deemed to continue until the proceedings are concluded. Section 6 defines the “conclusion of proceedings” to include:
disposition of the proceedings
when a person has been convicted and sentenced for an offence.
Committal for trial or sentence is not the conclusion of proceedings in relation to bail: s 6(3). Bail continues to operate.
See also Bail on appeal at [20-180].
Only the following three applications may be made under the Act:
a release application — which may be made by the accused person under s 49 for bail to be granted or dispensed with
a detention application — which may be made by the prosecutor under s 50 for the refusal or revocation of bail, or
a variation application — which may be made by any “interested person” as set out in s 51 for a variation in bail conditions.
Section 16 sets out the key features of bail decisions and defines:
The Act contains general provisions as to when a court has the power to hear a bail application:
proceedings for the offence are pending in that court: s 61
the court has convicted the person of the offence and an appeal against the conviction or sentence is pending in another court but the person has not yet made their first appearance before the other court: s 62
the application is for the variation of a bail decision made by the court: s 63.
Section 64 sets out powers specific to the Local Court (which includes where relevant the Children’s Court and the Drug Court) to hear:
a release application or detention application in respect of a person who is (s 64(1)):
accused of an offence, where the person is brought or appearing before the court, or
an appellant from a decision of the Local Court to the District Court, Land and Environment Court or Supreme Court under the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001, where the person is not brought or appearing before the court.
a bail application where a bail decision has been made by an authorised justice or police officer: s 64(3)
a variation application where a bail decision has been made by a higher court (although pursuant to s 57(1), where a higher court has imposed a bail condition that it has directed is not to be varied, such a condition may only be varied with the consent of the accused person and the prosecutor): s 64(4).
A court may, of its own motion, grant bail to a person on the first appearance even if a release application is not made. This power is discretionary and is only to be exercised to benefit the accused person. However, this does not apply to show cause offences unless a bail application is made, s 53(4). Under the Bail Regulation 2014, a release or variation application may be made orally by an accused person: cll 16 and 20.
this provision may be utilised where a self-represented person appears in custody. The court may take into account the nature of the charge and the reasons outlined by a police officer or authorised justice for refusing bail.
The Act restricts the jurisdiction of the Local Court in the following areas:
No jurisdiction to hear a bail application if a person has made their first appearance before the District or Supreme Court: s 68(1). This is subject to the exceptions under s 68(2), that is, when a person has been arrested under a bench warrant or an offence has been remitted to the Children’s Court or Local Court following proceedings in the District Court or Supreme Court.
If a person has appeared before the Supreme Court for a bail application, the Local Court may only hear a further bail application if:
the substantive matter is still before the Local Court, and
the person appears, and
the court is satisfied special facts or circumstances justify the hearing of the bail application: s 69(1).
Where a bail decision of a superior court has directed that bail not be varied, this may only be done where both parties consent: s 57(1).
under s 78, the Local Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine proceedings for a failure to comply with a bail acknowledgment or bail conditions that relate to Supreme Court or District Court bail: see Enforcement of bail requirements at [20-120].
The court may defer making a bail decision where the person is intoxicated: s 56(1). Section 4 defines an intoxicated person as someone who “appears to be seriously affected by alcohol or another drug or a combination of drugs”.
A court may adjourn the proceedings for no longer than 24 hours. In that circumstance, the court is to issue a warrant remanding the person to a correctional centre or other place of security until further hearing of the matter: s 56(2).
It is suggested confirmation is sought with the relevant custody authority on the record that the person’s presentation as “intoxicated” is not due to other possible medical reasons.
Section 71 requires a bail application to be dealt with “as soon as reasonably practicable”.
An application by an accused person on their first appearance for a release or variation application in the substantive proceedings for an offence must be heard: s 72(1).
A court is not to decline to hear the application because notice has not been given to the prosecutor, but may adjourn the hearing in order to enable notice to be given to the prosecutor if this has not occurred and the court considers it necessary in the interests of justice: s 72(2).
Where an application is received from a person in custody for a release application to be listed prior to the next adjourned date, the following should be considered:
the length of time the application may take
notice is required for other parties
the availability of the parties
available court dates and other listings
persons in custody should take priority over other listings.
When exercising a function in relation to bail (except criminal proceedings for failure to appear or forfeiture of security proceedings (s 31(2)) the court may:
take into account any evidence or information that the bail authority considers credible or trustworthy in the circumstances and is not bound by the principles or rules of law regarding the admission of evidence: s 31(1).
The test to be applied in bail decisions is on the balance of probabilities: s 32(1). However, this test does not apply to proceedings for an offence relating to bail: s 32(2).
The test for a bail decision is a two-stage process:
The “show cause” requirement (only for certain serious offences) under Pt 3, Div 1A, and/or
The unacceptable risk test (for all offences) under Pt 3, Div 2.
The two steps must not be conflated. Determination of the unacceptable risk test is not determinative of the show cause test: DPP (NSW) v Tikomaimaleya  NSWCA 83 at .
A bail authority must determine if the person is charged with a “show cause” offence. If yes, the Flow Chart 1 from s 16 applies.
If a person is charged with an offence that is not a show cause offence, the bail authority determines bail in accordance with Flow Chart 2 in s 16, the unacceptable risk test (see Step 2 below).
The show cause requirement does not apply to a person under 18 years of age at the time of the offence: s 16A(3).
Division 1A introduces a “show cause” requirement for certain offences. New section 16A provides that for show cause offences bail must be refused unless the accused shows cause where his or her detention is not justified. This shift of onus is an important change. Victoria and Queensland have show cause requirements in their bail legislation. Courts in those States have noted circumstances that may be relevant to determining “show cause”, including the strength of the prosecution case, preventable delays and urgent personal situations such as the need for medical treatment. Bail authorities in New South Wales will be informed by the approach taken in these other jurisdictions when applying the show cause provisions.
Section 16A(1) provides that, with regard to a “show cause” offence, a bail authority must refuse bail unless the accused person shows cause why his or her detention is not justified. In making this determination, the bail authority must consider all the evidence or information the bail authority considers credible or trustworthy in the circumstances: s 31(1) (DPP (NSW) v Tikomaimaleya  NSWCA 83 at ). If the accused can show cause, then the bail authority must use the unacceptable risk test: s 16A(2). Section 16B exhaustively lists “show cause” offences. The list includes:
an offence punishable by imprisonment for life: s 16B(1)(a)
a serious indictable offence that involves an intent to have sexual intercourse with a person under 16 years old by a person aged 18 years or older: s 16B(1)(b)(i), (ii)
a serious personal violence offence, or an offence involving wounding or the infliction of grievous bodily harm, if the accused person has previously been convicted of a serious personal violence offence: s 16B(1)(c)
certain serious indictable offences under Pts 3 or 3A Crimes Act 1900 or under the Firearms Act 1996 involving the use of a firearm and indictable offences that involve the unlawful possession or the acquisition, supply or manufacture of a pistol or prohibited firearm: s 16B(1)(d)(i), (ii), (iii)
a serious indictable or indictable offences involving a military style weapon under Pts 3 or 3A Crimes Act 1900 or under the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998: s 16B(1)(e)(i), (ii), (iii)
an offence under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 that involves a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug or plant: s 16B(1)(f)
an offence under Pt 9.1 Criminal Code (Cth) that involves a commercial quantity of a serious drug: s 16B(1)(g)
a serious indictable offence that is committed by an accused person while on bail or parole: s 16B(1)(h)(i) (ii)
an indictable offence or an offence concerning compliance with a supervision order: s 16B(1)(i)
a serious indictable offence of attempting to commit an offence mentioned in s 16B(1)(j)
a serious indictable offence (however described) of assisting, aiding, abetting, counselling, procuring, soliciting, being an accessory to, encouraging, inciting or conspiring to commit an offence mentioned elsewhere in this section: s 16B(1)(k).
A “serious indictable offence” is defined under s 4 Crimes Act 1900 to mean “an indictable offence that is punishable by imprisonment for life or for a term of 5 years or more”. This definition includes offences such as larceny and most dishonesty offences. It also includes assault occasioning actual bodily harm (s 59 Crimes Act) and stalking/intimidation (s 13 Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007).
Unless a person shows cause why their detention is not justified, bail must be refused in accordance with s 16A(1).
If a person is charged with an offence that is not a show cause offence, the bail authority determines bail in accordance with the second flow chart in s 16, the unacceptable risk test (see Step 2 below).
If a person charged does show cause, or they are not charged with a show cause offence, the unacceptable risk test applies. See the Flow Chart 2 from s 16 (below):
Unlike presumptions, determining show cause will not be the end of the matter. If a person shows cause, he or she will still be subject to the unacceptable risk test.
This test, contained in Pt 3, Div 2, relates to all offences. A bail authority must consider if the accused person is a bail concern (ss 17 and 18) and, on the basis of that assessment, if the accused person is an unacceptable risk (s 19). If the bail authority is satisfied the person is an unacceptable risk, bail must be refused: s 19(1).
A bail concern is defined in s 17(2) to mean that a bail authority has a concern that the accused person, if released from custody, will:
fail to appear at any proceedings for the offence, or
commit a serious offence, or
endanger the safety of victims, individuals or the community, or
interfere with witnesses or evidence.
In making an assessment of a bail concern under s 17 a bail authority is to consider only the matters listed in s 18(1). An exhaustive list of criteria includes the following:
the accused’s background (including criminal history, circumstances and community ties): s 18(1)(a)
the nature and seriousness of the offence: s 18(1)(b)
the strength of the prosecution cases: s 18(1)(c)
whether the accused has a history of violence: s 18(1)(d)
whether the accused has previously committed a serious offence while on bail: s 18(1)(e)
the accused’s compliance history with bail acknowledgments, bail conditions, apprehended violence orders, parole orders or good behaviour bonds: s 18(1)(f)
whether the accused has any criminal associations: s 18(1)(g)
the length of time the accused is likely to spend in custody if bail is refused: s 18(1)(h)
likelihood of a custodial sentence being imposed if the accused is convicted of the offence: s 18(1)(i)
whether the appeal against conviction or sentence pending before a court has a reasonably arguable prospect of success: s 18(1)(j)
any special vulnerability or needs the accused has including being an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or because of youth or having a cognitive or mental health impairment: s 18(1)(k)
the accused’s need to be free to prepare for his or her appearance in court or to obtain legal advice: s 18(1)(l)
the accused’s need to be free for any other lawful reason: s 18(1)(m)
the conduct of the accused towards any victim of the offence or any family member after the offence: s 18(1)(n)
for a serious offence, the view of any victim or any family member of the victim (if available) in assessing if the accused could endanger the safety of victims, individuals or the community: s 18(1)(o)
the bail conditions that could be reasonably imposed to address bail concerns: s 18(1)(p).
Section 18(2) provides a list of matters that are to be considered in deciding the seriousness of an offence but the matters that can be considered are not limited. The matters that are expressly listed in s 18(2) include:
whether the offence is of a sexual or violent nature
whether the offence involves the possession or use of an offensive weapon or instrument within the meaning of the Crimes Act 1900
the likely effect of the offence on any victim and on the community generally
the number of offences likely to be committed or for which the person has been granted bail or released on parole.
Section 19(1) provides that if, after making an assessment of any bail concerns, including what bail conditions may be imposed, the bail authority is satisfied that there is an unacceptable risk of all or any of the four criteria listed in s 19(2), bail must be refused.
That an accused has shown cause under s 16A that his or her detention is not justified is not relevant to a determination of whether there is an unacceptable risk: s 19(3).
Section 19(4) provides that, despite a finding of an unacceptable risk, certain offences carry a right to release and bail cannot be refused. Under s 21(1), the court may make only the following bail decisions for offences with a right of release:
to release the person without bail
dispense with bail, or
grant bail (with or without conditions).
A right to release applies to (s 21(2)).
offences under the Summary Offences Act 1988, other than the following “excluded offences” listed under s 21(3):
obscene exposure (s 5), if the person has previously been convicted of an offence under that section
violent disorder (s 11A), if the person has previously been convicted of an offence under that section or a “personal violence offence” as defined in s 4, Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007
offences relating to knives and offensive implements under ss 11B, 11C or 11E, if the person has previously been convicted of an offence under any of those sections or a personal violence offence
custody or use of a laser pointer in a public place (s 11FA), and
loitering by a convicted sexual offender near premises frequented by children (s 11G):
an offence that is being dealt with by way of a youth justice conference under Pt 5 Young Offenders Act 1997.
A right to release no longer applies to an offence where an accused person has previously failed to comply with a bail acknowledgment or a bail condition forming part of a bail decision for the offence: s 21(4). A court before which a person appears or is brought before following non-compliance with a bail acknowledgment or bail condition may refuse or revoke bail even where the offence is one for which there is a right of release, and there ceases to be a right of release if bail is revoked.
The reasons for a bail decision must be recorded in the following circumstances (s 38):
if bail is refused, the court must record the reasons, including ( if bail was refused, because of an unacceptable risk) the unacceptable risk or risks identified: s 38(1). A person who is bail refused must, as soon as practicable, be given a written notice setting out the “terms of the decision” and information regarding the review or variation of the decision as required by the regulations: s 34
if imposing bail conditions, the court must record why unconditional bail was not granted and the bail concern or concerns identified for imposing bail conditions: s 38(2)
if a security or character condition is imposed the record of the bail decision must include the reasons for imposing any security requirement or requiring any character acknowledgments: s 38(3)
if an accused person has requested certain bail conditions and the court impose different conditions, the reasons must also be recorded: s 38(4).
Section 38 requires that the reasons for refusing bail or imposing bail conditions be recorded.
Section 20 provides that an accused person is to be released if there are no unacceptable risks. Subject to Pt 3 Div 1A and Div 2A, if there are no unacceptable risks, the bail authority must:
grant bail (with or without conditions)
release the person without bail, or
dispense with bail.
Bail conditions can only be imposed if a bail authority is satisfied that there are identified bail concerns.
Bail conditions may be imposed but only if the court is satisfied of the following under s 20A(2):
The condition is reasonably necessary to address a bail concern (s 20A(2)(a)), and
The condition is reasonable and proportionate of the offence (s 20A(2)(b)), and
The condition is appropriate to the bail concern identified (s 20A(2)(c)), and
The condition is no more onerous than necessary to address the bail concern identified (s 20A(2)(d)), and
It is reasonably practicable for the accused person to comply with the condition (s 20A(2)(e)), and
There are reasonable grounds to believe that the condition is likely to be complied with by the accused person (s 20A(2)(f)).
A security requirement can only be imposed to address a bail concern of the person failing to appear. If that bail concern has not been identified, a security requirement cannot be imposed: s 26(5).
Table 1. Bail conditions that can be imposed
|Conduct requirement: s 25||
A requirement that the accused person do or refrain from doing anything (other than to provide security for compliance with a bail acknowledgment).
For example, a place restriction, or not to contact or approach certain persons, or not to drink alcohol.
When necessary to address a bail concern
|Security requirement: s 26||
A requirement that security be provided by the accused person, or an acceptable person/s for compliance with a bail acknowledgment. This is a form of pre-release requirement: see Pre-release requirement: s 29.
Such a condition may include:
The court is to determine what amounts to “acceptable security”: s 26(4).
Only for the purpose of addressing a bail concern that the person will fail to appear, and only where that purpose is not likely to be achieved by one or more conduct requirements
|Character acknowledgment: s 27||
An acknowledgment given by an acceptable person to the effect that they are acquainted with the accused person and regard the accused person as a responsible person who is likely to comply with their bail acknowledgment.
The court is to determine what person/s or class/description of persons is an “acceptable person”: (s 27(3)).
Only where the purpose for imposing is not likely to be achieved by one or more conduct requirements: (s 27(3)).
|Accommodation requirement: s 28||
A requirement that suitable accommodation arrangements be made for the accused person before their release on bail. This is a form of pre-release requirement: see Pre-release requirement: s 29.
An accommodation requirement is complied with when the court is informed by an appropriate government representative that suitable accommodation has been secured: s 29(4).
Only available where the person is a child or where otherwise authorised in the regulations: s 28(3).
Once imposed, a court must re-list the matter every two days, until the condition is met: s 28(4).
|Pre-release requirement: s 29||
A condition that must be complied with before the accused person is released on bail. This may only be either:
Upon compliance with a pre-release requirement (as set out in s 29 or the regulations), the accused person is entitled to be released without any rehearing of the matter: s 29(5).
|Enforcement condition: s 30||
A condition imposed for the purpose of monitoring or enforcing compliance with another bail condition (the underlying bail condition) that requires the person to comply while on bail with one or more specified police directions given for that purpose.
This condition can only be imposed by a court and only following an application by the prosecutor. For example, where a person has a bail condition not to consume alcohol, an enforcement condition may be imposed that the person be breath tested by a police officer at certain times/places.
An enforcement condition must specify (s 30(4)):
Only where considered reasonable and necessary, having regard to:
The general requirements of bail conditions set out in s 20A do not apply to enforcement conditions: s 20A(3).
Bail can only be refused where the court is satisfied that cause has not been shown (s 16A(1) — where the relevant offence is a show cause offence), or following an assessment of bail concerns, that there is an unacceptable risk: s 19(1).
When bail is refused, the court must:
immediately record the reasons for refusing bail, including (if bail was refused because of an unacceptable risk) the unacceptable risk or risks identified: s 38(1)
give, as soon as practicable, a written notice setting out the “terms of the decision” to the person who is bail refused: s 34(1).
A court has a discretion to refuse bail when an accused is brought before the court on a first appearance and no bail decision has been made or bail refused and no bail application has been made: s 54.
Unless an person who is bail refused consents, a magistrate may only adjourn the matter for a period of not more than 8 clear days.
The following exceptions to this requirement are set out in s 41(2):
the person is in custody for some other offence, and
the court is satisfied there are reasonable grounds for a longer period of adjournment, and
the person would be in custody for the other offence for the balance of the longer period.
A further release application is not permitted unless there are grounds to make another application. The following grounds are set out in subsection (3).
the person was not legally represented when the previous application was dealt with and now has legal representation, or
material information relevant to the grant of bail is to be presented in the application that was not presented to the court in the previous application, or
circumstances relevant to the grant of bail have changed since the previous application was made, or
the person is a child and the previous application was made on a first appearance for the offence.
A further detention application is not permitted unless there is new material information to be presented to the court, or circumstances relevant to the grant of bail have changed: see s 74(4).
Changes to the Bail Act are not a change of circumstances pursuant to s 74(3) or (4). See Sch 3 cl 9(2).
The court may refuse to hear a bail application if satisfied:
that it is frivolous or vexatious (s 73(1)(a)), or
it is without substance or otherwise has no reasonable prospect of success: s 73(1)(b).
However, these discretionary grounds do not apply to a release or variation application made by an accused person on a first appearance in proceedings for the offence: s 73(3).
If an accused person who has been granted bail remains in custody due to non-compliance with a bail condition/s, the court must be notified by the manager of the correctional centre or officer in charge of the police station within 8 days of the person being received into custody: s 42.
On receipt of a notice, the magistrate will inform the registrar of the court of what action, if any, is to be taken. For instance, under s 55, the court has the power to conduct a hearing to vary bail conditions without an application, which may occur on the court’s own motion (or at the request of the accused person or a police officer). This is regarded as a form of variation application.
In any variation application under s 55, the court may only review the existing bail, not the decision whether or not to grant bail: s 55(2). It is a limited review. Accordingly, pursuant to s 55(6), the court may only:
affirm the existing bail decision (as to the conditions of bail), or
vary the bail decision, but not to revoke or refuse bail.
Section 40 applies to “serious offences”, defined in s 40(5) as:
offences of murder, or
any offence punishable by life imprisonment, or
sexual offences involving intercourse, or an attempt to have sexual intercourse, with a person under the age of 16 yrs.
Where a decision is made to grant or dispense with bail to an accused person at their first appearance for a serious offence, that decision will be stayed if (s 40(1)):
a police officer or Australian legal practitioner appearing on behalf of the Crown immediately informs the court that a detention application is to be made to the Supreme Court, and
the police officer or Crown provides a copy of the written approval of an authorised officer or the Director of Public Prosecutions to make a detention application in the Supreme Court.
The stay has effect until the first occurring of any of the following (s 40(2)):
The Supreme Court affirms or varies the decision, or substitutes another decision for the bail decision, or refuses to hear the detention application.
The Crown files with the Supreme Court or the Local Court a notice that the Crown does not intend to proceed with the detention application.
4 pm on the day that is 3 business days after the day on which the decision was made.
While a stay operates, the accused person is not entitled to be at liberty and remains in custody.
The Bail Act 2013 introduces the concept of a bail acknowledgment in place of a bail undertaking.
Upon a grant of bail being made, the person is to be given a bail acknowledgment, which he or she is required to sign and a copy of which is to be given to the court before being entitled to release: ss 14(1), 33(1).
The bail acknowledgment is defined in s 33(2) as a written notice that contains requirements for the person to:
appear before the court at a specified day, time and place, and
notify the court of any change in the person’s residential address. This is a new requirement that exists independently of any residence condition.
A person who fails to reside at the address on the bail acknowledgment may be in breach of a bail acknowledgment, rather than failing to comply with a bail condition: Enforcement of bail requirements at [20-120].
A person granted bail, or for whom bail is dispensed with, is required to appear before a court and surrender to the custody of the court, when required to do so. In effect, a person who appears before a court following a bail decision (to grant bail or dispense with bail) is in the custody of the court until the court makes further orders in the proceedings: s 13(1).
The time the person is required to appear is when the matter is called at the court premises: s 13(3). Therefore, it is important to ensure prior to making any orders in a person’s absence that the case is called at the courthouse.
A court may excuse a failure to appear: s 13(4). A practical example is the receipt of a phone or written message and/or a medical certificate, which can be accepted by the court for non-attendance.
A police officer has a discretion under s 77(1) regarding what action may be taken where that police officer believes, on reasonable grounds, that the person has failed, or is about to fail, to comply with a bail condition or acknowledgment.
A police officer may take no action, warn the person, or take other action. If the police officer decides to arrest the person, or apply for a warrant for that person’s arrest, the person is then placed before the court. In those circumstances there has been no decision by a bail authority to refuse bail. It is for the prosecution to advise the court whether a detention application or a variation application is sought.
Persons arrested by police for failing to comply with bail conditions of the District or Supreme Courts regularly appear at Local/Children’s Courts including courts in remote locations. The nearest District or Supreme Court may often be hundreds of kilometres away. In s 78(6), relevant bail authority is defined to include the Local Court, which has jurisdiction to determine bail under s 78 for persons on bail to appear before the District and Supreme Courts when the person had failed, or was about to fail, to comply with a bail acknowledgment or bail conditions; see also s 69(3).
A failure to comply with a bail condition or bail acknowledgment is not an offence. It is a procedural mechanism for bail to be re-determined, if there has been a failure to comply with bail.
Has the person failed, or is the person about to fail to comply with a bail condition or acknowledgment?
In most circumstances, a failure to comply will be admitted, for example, failing to report to a police station. However, in circumstances where a failure to comply is not admitted, a short hearing may be required to determine this issue:
the court must be satisfied on the balance of probabilities: s 32
the party asserting a failure to comply has the onus of proof
the rules of evidence do not apply: s 31
the court may take into account “any evidence or information that the bail authority considers credible or trustworthy in the circumstance”: s 31.
Prior to making any further orders under s 78, the court must be satisfied that a person has failed, or was about to fail, to comply with a bail undertaking or bail acknowledgment.
A practical example of a person about to fail to comply is where a person has a conduct requirement not to leave NSW. Police do not have to wait until the person has actually crossed the border. A person who has purchased a plane ticket to Melbourne and boards a fight to Melbourne with luggage would satisfy this requirement.
If satisfied a person has failed to comply with a bail undertaking, a court has the following options regarding what orders to make under s 78(1) or (2):
release the person on the original bail
vary the bail
revoke or refuse bail.
A court may only revoke or refuse bail if satisfied a bail acknowledgment or condition has not been complied with and having considered all the alternatives the decision to refuse bail is justified: s 78(2).
The unacceptable risk test still applies to proceedings under Pt 8: s 78(3).
Failing to appear in accordance with a bail acknowledgment is a criminal offence: s 79(1). The penalty is either the maximum penalty for the substantive offence or 3 years imprisonment or a maximum $3,300 fine, whichever is the lesser: ss 79(3), 79(4)
A statutory defence of “a reasonable excuse” applies. The onus is on the person to prove reasonable excuse: s 79(2).
Section 80 deals with proceedings for the offence of failure to appear and s 94 contains facilitation of proof provisions for failing to appear proceedings.
On a first appearance by an accused person, a court may, of its own motion, grant bail or vary a previous bail (but not so as to refuse bail). However, the court cannot grant bail for a show cause offence without an application: s 53(4).
This power may only be exercised to benefit the accused person: s 53(2).
A variation application may be made by an “interested person” defined under s 51(3) as:
an accused person to whom bail has been granted
the prosecutor in proceedings for the offence
the complainant, where the offence is a domestic violence offence
the person for whose protection an order would be made, where the grant of bail relates to AVO proceedings
the Attorney General.
where a bail condition imposed by a higher court is the subject of a direction that it not be varied, the consent of both the accused person and the prosecutor for the condition is required before any variation is made by the Local or Children’s Courts: s 57.
No specific time frame is provided; however, reasonable notice of the application is required: s 51(5), (7).
Clause 20 Bail Regulation 2014 provides:
Making of variation application
An interested person (within the meaning of section of 51 of the Act) is to make a variation application in writing and in the approved form.
An accused person may make a variation application orally if the person is before the court.
A court or authorised justice may make a decision on a variation application even if the application does not comply with subclause (1).
An interested person may, in one variation application, make a variation application in respect of more than one offence committed or alleged to have been committed by the same person.
If an accused person who makes a variation application is in custody at a correctional centre, the general manager of the correctional centre must forward the variation application, without undue delay, to the registrar of the court to which the application is made.
In determining a variation application, a court must not revoke bail unless this is requested by the prosecutor: s 51(9).
The Bail Act itself does not require that a bail guarantor provide their consent to a variation of bail conditions. Section 36(3) provides that if a court varies a bail condition for entry into a bail security agreement, it must ensure that a person who has entered into an agreement is given a written notice setting out the terms of the condition as varied.
While there is no legislative requirement, it is recommended for procedural fairness that the views of a bail guarantor be considered in any variation application.
Section 83(1) allows a bail guarantor to apply to a court to be discharged from liability under a bail security agreement at any time. An application may be made to “the court of appearance” (defined in s 83(6) as the court before which the person is required to appear) or the court that granted bail: s 83(2).
A bail guarantor cannot be discharged unless the accused person is before the court: s 83(4).
Section 83(3) provides for the issue of a summons or warrant to bring the accused before the court for this purpose. The court must discharge the bail guarantor “unless satisfied that it would be unjust to do so”: s 83(4). Once a bail guarantor is discharged the security requirement of the bail acknowledgment is no longer intact. Pursuant to s 83(5), a court may:
vary the bail conditions, and
have the person taken into custody until those new conditions are met.
Section 62 empowers the court to hear bail applications pending an appeal:
Power to hear bail application if sentence or conviction appealed
A court may hear a bail application for an offence if:
the court has convicted a person of the offence, and
proceedings on an appeal against sentence or conviction are pending in another court, and
the person has not yet made his or her first appearance before the court in the appeal proceedings.
Under s 12, a fresh bail decision is to be made:
Bail ceases to have effect if:
substantive proceedings for the offence conclude and, at the conclusion of the proceedings, no further substantive proceedings for the offence are pending before a court.
Bail is not revived if, after the conclusion of substantive proceedings for an offence, further substantive proceedings for the offence are commenced. However, a new bail decision for the offence can be made under this Act.
However, an appeal against conviction or sentence is within the meaning of substantive proceedings: see s 5(3). As the explanatory note to s 12(2) further states:
Proceedings for an offence generally conclude if a person is convicted of and sentenced for the offence. If an appeal against the conviction or sentence is lodged after that conclusion, bail is not revived, but a new bail decision can be made.
See also at [20-028] as to the additional power of the court to hear a bail application on appeal where the defendant is not present: s 64.
Section 10(3) provides that the deeming provision does not apply if bail is continued and no specific direction is made by the court, the court is deemed to have continued bail.
Transitional provisions in Sch 3 Bail Act 2013 provide for the continuation of the following actions taken under the repealed Bail Act 1978 as if they were taken under the Bail Act 2013:
a grant of bail (Sch 3, cl 3)
a bail undertaking and any obligations under it (Sch 3, cl 4)
a bail agreement and anything an accused person is required to do or refrain from doing under it (Sch 3, cl 5)
a security agreement (Sch 3, cl 6).
For a summary of the bail amendments, please refer to Special Bulletin 8.