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What is bail?

Bail is an agreement between you and the police and court that you will turn up to court and stick to certain conditions until your court matter is finished. Some examples of conditions are:

  • having a curfew
  • not being allowed to hang around with other people who the police think were involved in the crime you have been charged with.

Bail is not meant to be a punishment. It is supposed to make sure that you turn up to court when you are meant to and that you stay out of trouble in the meantime.

Can I change my bail conditions at court on the day?

Some bail conditions are easier to change than others.

For example, if you have moved and you need to change the address on your bail or if you need to change the police station you report to, you should be able to change those sorts of conditions on the day.

If you want to delete your curfew or change a condition that says you're not allowed to go near someone, you will usually have to give the police notice (time to think about whether they will agree with the change you are asking for). The police generally ask for two days notice. This means that these sorts of conditions can't usually be changed on the day you are at court unless you have contacted your lawyer before you come to court.

Remember, if someone has signed you out on bail or put money up on your bail, you can't change your bail conditions unless that person

  1. also comes to court or
  2. writes and signs a letter to say that they are OK with the changes.

The letter will need to be shown to the magistrate.

If you have a problem with your bail conditions you should tell your lawyer before you go into court.

This includes telling your lawyer anything that makes your bail conditions hard to stick to for you, your family, carers or for work. The lawyer may not always be able to do anything about it on the day, but if you tell them, then they can either put in the paperwork for an application to change your bail conditions or put court and the police on notice for the next time you come to court.

What happens if I breach my bail?

If you breach any of the conditions of your bail, the police can arrest you. You may have to spend the night in custody (locked up) and come to court from the cells. The court may release you on the same bail conditions, give you a new bail with different conditions or refuse you bail.

If the court refuses you bail, you will have to stay in custody until your next court date. You can talk to your lawyer about making another bail application, or about applying for bail at the Supreme Court if you are going to be refused for a long time.

Remember, every time you breach your bail it gets harder to get bail the next time!