Bail & Mode of Trial - Baldric is charged with the theft of a large quantity of turnips.What factors would influence the court on whether to grant bail or not?

Authors Avatar

Criminal Law Questions

James Goodwin

Bail & Mode of Trial

1. Baldric is charged with the theft of a large quantity of turnips.

What factors would influence the court on whether to grant bail or not?

Bail is a very important pre-trial matter. It is basically a decision on whether a person charged with a crime should be detained or be at liberty until their next or indeed first court date. Bail is not necessary in most cases as most people prosecuted are summonsed to court rather than charged, this means that they are at liberty until found guilty of the crime in court, or the conditions changing and they being charged and refused bail. As the question however, states that it is the court who are deciding whether to grant Baldrick bail or not, we must presume that he has indeed been charged, and he has been refused police bail, or indeed the case has already begun and the court are thinking of maybe changing the bail the police have granted.

If it has got to court it means that baldrick has not been granted bail already by the police. If this had been done it would have been under section 38 of the police and criminal evidence act and the bail act 1976. it could however be that the police have indeed failed to grant bail and the defendant has been brought before the magistrates as set out in the bail act 1976 to decide whether or not the police have indeed acted legally in not granting bail.

The factors the court would take into account before granting a defendant bail are quite clearly stated in the bail act 1976 and the police and criminal evidence act 1989 as amended by the criminal justice and public order act 1994. The most important point set out in these acts is that a person having being charged with a crime is assumed innocent until proven guilty and therefore the assumption is that that an accused person should be granted bail. This means that bail is a right unless the court has substantial grounds to believe that one or more criteria for refusing bail could be met.

These criteria for refusing bail are basic and generally quite straight forward. They are nothing more than safeguards to assure a fair trial and indeed to ensure that the trial can go ahead. The first of the criteria is would the defendant surrender to custody. This is basically the belief that the defendant may decide not to show up where he is required by the court to do so. The second and third criteria respectively are whether the defendant would commit a crime whilst on bail and whether he would interfere with justice by tampering with evidence or witnesses.

In order to asses whether there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a defendant may meet one of these criteria the court will use these next points to help them decide on the risk. The first is the nature and seriousness of the crime. This can be quite a simple point to use as if the crime committed is one not punishable by a prison term, the court can only refuse bail if the defendant has a history of not surrendering to bail or there is sufficient belief that he will not turn up now. On the other hand if the crime is a serious arrestable offence such as murder rape and manslaughter, it is the court who must come up with a sufficiently important reason why bail should be granted. The second point to take into consideration is that of the character and past record of the defendant. Also the ties the defendant has in a community are assessed. Another very important point to consider is the past bail record of the defendant. If he has a good record of turning up for bail then the court may indeed trust that he will do so again. The opposite is also possible. The last point is the strength of evidence against the defendant. It is hard to use this point as a defendant, no matter how guilt he may appear, is still by law innocent until proven guilty. This means that although the evidence may look strongly in favour against him, he is, until proven so in a court of law, innocent. However if it does indeed look quite probable to the court that the defendant will be found guilty, they may not grant bail as risk of flight may be quite high, and time served in jail whilst on bail will also mean less time once convicted.

Join now!

The points above are but guides for the courts to use, no amount or rules can take into account all the individual aspects of every case. This must be left to the court. For instance a man may have once not surrendered to bail, which should make him ineligible for bail, however the situation he was in at the time, r is indeed in now may make that fact unimportant.

A great help for the courts is the ability to set conditions. These conditions can take many forms. They are in essence a way, by means of ...

This is a preview of the whole essay