Old Bailey Solicitors

Understanding Bail Conditions: Your Rights & Responsibilities

What can I do while I’m on bail?

The police may place you on bail while they continue with their investigation.  Or, if you have already been charged with an offence, you might be bailed to attend the Magistrates’ Court.  In the vast majority of cases already before the courts, defendants will be subject to bail to re-attend at a later date, either for trial or sentence or some other preparatory hearing.

As a starting point, being subject to bail merely means that you are under a duty to attend the police station or court at a specified date and time.  If you are subject to unconditional bail, that will be the only requirement placed upon you.

If the police or the court take the view that there are substantial grounds to believe that you might fail to attend on the next occasion or that you might commit a further offence, conditions may be placed on your bail.  The conditions will be designed to tackle the specific concern.  For example, if it is believed that you might fail to attend on the next occasion, conditions requiring you reside at a particular address and to comply with a night-time curfew might be imposed.  For similar reasons, conditions  requiring you to report to a local police station on a regular basis or to surrender your passport to the police, might be considered.  If there is a concern that you might try to contact a witness in the case, conditions prohibiting you from contacting that person or from attending their home address or place of work will be imposed.

Being on bail in itself will not prevent you from going on holiday or from leaving the country provided you are able to attend the police station or court when required to do so.  However, it is the conditions of bail which might prevent such travel.  A condition to live and sleep each night at a specified address will prohibit an overnight stay elsewhere.

If, whilst subject to bail with conditions, you wish to take a holiday or to move address, an application can be made to have your conditions varied.  Equally, you may want to have your conditions changed or relaxed so that you don’t have to report to the police station as often or so the curfew hours are less strict.

If you are subject to police bail, then the application should be submitted to the police in the first instance.  There is a right of appeal to the Magistrates’ Court.  Where the conditions have been imposed by the court, the application to vary should be made to that court (Magistrates’ or crown).

The strength of your application will depend on an updated assessment of the risk that you are deemed to pose.  For that reason, a longer period of compliance on bail will assist your application.  While an application made the day after bail was imposed is less likely to be successful (without very good reason).

Where you are subject to bail with a condition not to contact someone (usually a witness in the case), this will generally include any indirect contact with that person.  So any attempt to pass a message to that person, no matter what the subject matter, will be a breach of your bail.  Equally, if that other person attempts to contact you, it is you, not the other person, who will be at risk of a breach.  If the other person seeks to make contact with you, the obligation remains on you to walk away, refuse to engage with them, decline the call or not reply to the message.  If such attempts persist, you are best advised to inform your solicitor or to contact the investigating police officer.  That way, the other person can be warned not to make contact with you again.

In these circumstances, contact will include phone calls, texts, emails and Facebook messages.  It will also include cards or letters posted through the letterbox.

No.  We are not in the USA.

Bail, in England and Wales, does not mean that you must pay a sum of money to the police or to the court in order to be released from custody.  You have an automatic right to bail unless there are substantial grounds to believe that certain exceptions apply (see above).

However, in some cases, where the court has significant concerns about the likelihood of you fleeing the jurisdiction, an offer to pay a Surety or a Security, may assist in persuading the court to grant you bail.

A Surety is an offer, made by someone who is close to you, to pay a specified sum to the court in the event that you fail to attend to answer your bail.  The court will expect to see evidence proving the veracity of the surety sum.  This will usually need to relate to monies sitting in a bank account.  The court will not accept the equity in a property that has yet to be sold, for example.  The court will also want to know how the person offering the surety will seek to ensure that you will attend when required.  For this reason, a surety is generally offered by a close family member or someone that you, as the defendant, will be living with.  The court is unlikely to accept an offer of a surety from someone living in another jurisdiction.

The amount of surety on offer will depend on the resources of the person making the offer.  It is not possible to fix a sum based on the seriousness of the offence.  One person may have access to large sums of money, while others might have limited savings to rely on.  £1,000 will be a lot of money for some people to lose.  It won’t be a lot to others.  So the court will have to make an assessment regarding the degree of risk being taken on and balance that against the seriousness of the allegations.

A Security is similar to a Surety except that the money is paid into court before the defendant is released from custody.  It is not an offer to pay if the defendant fails to attend.  The court holds the Security Sum and will only repay it once the defendant has attended all hearings as required.  In this way, the court is taking less risk.  However, it is generally accepted that a Security will be for a lower sum than a Surety.

Yes. Although breach of bail conditions is not in itself a criminal offence.

If you are on police bail (and have not yet been charged with a criminal offence), the police may arrest you if they have reasonable grounds to believe that you have breached a condition of your bail. Once you have been arrested, the police must decide whether to:

  1. Charge you with the offence that you are under investigation for. If you are charged with an offence, the police may then remand you in custody and put you before the next available court (usually the next morning) to answer the charge.
  2. Release you without charge on bail with the same conditions as before. The police have no power to vary or add bail conditions under these circumstances.

If you have been charged with an offence, the police can arrest you if they have reasonable grounds to believe that you may breach, or have breached, your bail conditions. You must then be brought before the court as soon as possible (this must be within 24 hours) for the court to determine whether to release you on bail (with the same or different bail conditions) or whether to remand you into custody to await the conclusion of your case.

Failure to attend court without a reasonable excuse is a criminal offence under the Bail Act. If you do not attend court when you are supposed to, it is likely that a warrant will be issued for your arrest and, when apprehended, you will be put before the next available court (usually the next morning). The court will determine whether to remand you in custody to await the conclusion of your case, or to release you on bail, with or without conditions.

If you have a reasonable excuse for not attending court, you remain under a duty to surrender to the court as soon as reasonably practicable. So, if for example, you cannot attend court due to an emergency medical appointment, you should attend court as soon as you are fit to do so thereafter. The court may want to see evidence relating to your reason for not attending court.

please contact Old Bailey Solicitors on 0207 8464 999 or email us at [email protected]

Rod Hayler Old Bailey Solicitors

Rod Hayler

Solicitor - Managing Director

44 responses to “Understanding Bail Conditions: Your Rights & Responsibilities”

  1. Kayman Smith says:

    I’m on bail from my home address in which I’m the sole tenant on the agreement. But my partner is there with our two girls. My question is can the housing association terminate my contract on the basis I e not stayed there for any period of time. Thanks for taking the time to read this, any guidance would be massively appreciated.

    Best regards

    • Rod Hayler says:

      Thank you for your comment. We can certainly provide you with some advice on this issue but we would need to take some instructions from you first. If you’d like to arrange a consultation, either in person or by video, please contact us on 0207 8464 999 or by emailing us at [email protected]

  2. David Templeman says:

    Can I stay with appropriate adult while on bail

    • Old Bailey Solicitors says:

      Dear David, thank you for reaching out to Old Bailey Solicitors with this question. The answer to this question varies and will depend on your bail conditions. I would suggest you contact our specialist criminal law team on 0207 846 4999 to discuss your personal circumstances as they will be able to advise you in more detail.

  3. Warren says:

    I am currently under investigation for sexual allegations and on bail with conditions.and I am due to go on holiday soon but have been told off safegarding I carnt go but it says nothing on my bail that I carnt go abroud

    • Camilla Rents says:

      Thank you for your comment. We would need to see the bail conditions to advise – just because there is no condition saying that you cannot go abroad, does not mean that you can do so. If there is a condition of residence then you would be required to live and sleep at a set address each night so cannot go abroad by implication. It is possible to apply to vary bail conditions which involves an application to the police in the first instance and then to the court if that bears no fruit. In short, we need more information to assist you. Please contact our specialist team for some individual advice.

  4. Cj says:

    Does my bail conditions have to be on my bail sheet? I was told verbally not to have direct or indirect contact with a specified person and failure to comply will be a breach of my bail conditions, however it is not in writing on my bail sheet as part of my conditions, if I have contact with said person can they legally say one breached bail when it was not written on my bail sheet, thank you

    • Old Bailey Solicitors says:

      Dear Connor. Thank you for your comment, our expert team have contacted you directly regarding your question. Kind regards

  5. Jack123 says:

    I have been bailed and told I can’t contact directly or indirectly someone i.e a witness . I have since then made tiktok videos speaking my mind & Kind of speaking to them but not to them. For them to see the videos they would have to find me on tiktok and go ahead and read the following. Never mentioned the person in questions name but did speak about the case and then just how i was feeling but referred them as HER ect. Is that breaking my bail conditions? Thanks

    • Rod Hayler says:

      Dear Jack. Posting messages via social media platforms can amount to indirect contact and so your TikTok posts could amount to a breach of your bail. It all depends on the precise wording used and whether it might be inferred as a deliberate attempt to send a message to the witness.

      If you wish to discuss this issue further, or if you would like to arrange an appointment to discuss your case in general and how we can assist you, please contact us on 0207 8464 999 or email [email protected]

  6. Duncan Robertson says:

    I have been accussed of rape by my exwife this is a false alagation thats been made against me as I had my exwife charged with child abuse and my exwife always told me I would never be allowed to keep the kids so she has made this alagation against me when my exwife was being questiond on abuse claims made by myself she td police I raped her I live at home alone with my two boys am worried if I get charged for this alagation of rape will I get out on bail I have no other family that I can rely on to take care of everything for me at home what can I do I have pets also and it’s a private let that I stay in

    • Rod Hayler says:

      Dear Duncan

      If the police do decide that they want to speak to you about your ex-wife’s allegation, it is most likely that you will be released on bail while they make further enquiries. That can be for a period of months. It is only in particularly urgent or high-risk cases that bail is withheld.

      If you wish to discuss this issue further, or if you would like to arrange an appointment to discuss your case in general and how we can assist you, please contact us on 0207 8464 999 or email [email protected]

  7. Aman says:

    I am on bail with Intentional strangulation or threat to kill.
    I have bail condition do not contact directly or I directly with witness person.can I travel to canada from UK

    • Rod Hayler says:

      If the only condition of your bail is not to contact the complainant / witness, then there should be no reason why you cannot travel to Canada. The only other requirement of your bail will be to attend the police station on your bail return date. So you will need to be ensure that you are back in the UK in time for that appointment.

      Generally, unless the police have imposed a condition of residence or a specific condition which prevents you from leaving the country, there is nothing to stop you from doing so. You should check your Bail Notice carefully in this regard.

      If you would like to arrange an appointment to discuss your case further and to see if we can assist, please email us at [email protected] or call 0207 8464 999

  8. Charles Parker says:

    Hello, I’m on bail and I want to travel. I’ve varied my bail condition for residence. Can I travel? THANK YOU

    • Rod Hayler says:

      Without knowing the full terms of your bail, we’re not able to provide you with any specific advice on this issue. If you would like to arrange an appointment or to instruct us formally, please call 0207 8464 999 or email [email protected]

  9. Richard says:

    I’m on bail until the 02/10/2023 only problem is I have a pre booked holiday and I’m not back until the 7th can this date be changed?
    Thanks

    • Rod Hayler says:

      It may be that the police will agree to put your bail return date back until after 7th October. Or, they might be able to confirm in advance that your attendance will not be required on 2nd October (because they need to extend your bail). However, you should assume that you are required to attend until the police confirm otherwise.
      If you have solicitors representing you, you should ask them to make contact with the police asap, to see if the date can be changed.

      If you are not currently represented, please call us on 0207 8464 999 or email [email protected] to see whether we can assist you.

  10. Jay says:

    I have been placed on pre charge bail with a condition not to see my partner, but this means my partner cannot come home or access their belongings and are in a bad living situation. Could that be grounds to review the condition? The offence was surrounding photographs of partner before 18th birthday, when they lied about their age.

    • Rod Hayler says:

      It may be that representations can be made to the police based on your partner’s views on the investigation and the difficulties they are now facing. However, we would need to know more about your case to be able to advise you properly. If you would like to arrange an appointment, please call 0207 8464 999 or email [email protected]

  11. Linda says:

    After my husband’s bail can he go back home? I withdrew my complaint against him domestic violence cos it was only the first time he “touched “me when we had an argument since we lived together for 3 years.

    • Rod Hayler says:

      Your husband’s bail will not be automatically removed as a result of you withdrawing your complaint. The police often continue to investigate cases, and even prosecute cases, in the face of an unwilling witness / victim. So, he will only be able to return home once his bail is removed and assuming there is no other court order in place which prevents him from contacting you.

      If you would like to arrange an appointment to discuss your case further, please email us at [email protected] or call us on 0207 8464 999.

  12. Charles Parker says:

    Hello, I’ve been charged and I will have to go to court. But I want to know. Can I travel?

  13. Nigel Reddon says:

    I’m on a visa and I’ve been charged and not allowed to leave the country. My visa, however, expires next month. I’ve continued working as normal but will I be able to continue after next month? I assume i still exercise the same rights while here?

    • Rod Hayler says:

      It is obviously important that you continue to comply with the conditions of your bail. If your bail and your immigration status are going to be in conflict, I would suggest that you make contact with the Immigration Service to seek their guidance. Alternatively, if you take the view that you are required to leave the country, you might want to make contact with the investigating police officer to explain the position.

      If you simply fail to attend court when required to do so, having left the country, it is likely that a warrant for your arrest will be issued. Any such warrant would be executed upon your return to the country which might lead to you being detained in custody.

      If you have an Immigration lawyer, I would seek their advice regarding any decision to remain in the country beyond the expiry of your visa. That is not something we can advise you on I’m afraid.

      If you require legal advice and assistance in respect of your criminal case, please contact us on 0207 8464 999 or at [email protected]

  14. Nkoliso says:

    Yesterday I was told by the police that I’m being re-bailed….however I’m supposed to be abroad before the date given to me for my granddad’s funeral in Africa….is it possible a member of my family to call the police to re arrange the date after coming back form Africa?

    • Rod Hayler says:

      Whether you can travel to Africa before your bail return date will depend on any conditions of your bail. If you do not have conditions which keep you in the UK, or at your home address, then you may be able to travel. However, you will need to return to the police station in order to answer to your bail. If the bail date will clash with your period of travel, you will need to raise this with the investigating officer in advance, to see whether the return date can be changed. If you have solicitors instructed, they can help you with this.

  15. Dainis says:

    Im under bale in UK ..im Illegal here i dont have incurnce and no job no nothing..landlord drop me out off house !
    Can i just leave the country go to Ireland and come back on court!? Police stations dont realy have ideas about how anything can do in my situations im all ready 2 monts in bale have to sighn 3 times per week ..can i just ask live in prison!? I dont wana live on street

    • Rod Hayler says:

      You should always answer to bail if you are able to. If you have a reasonable excuse not to attend, you would need evidence to support that excuse and you would be expected to surrender to bail as soon as reasonably practicable. So if you are too unwell, you would need to obtain a note from your GP and you would need to attend the police station as soon as you are well enough.

  16. Jay says:

    Hi I’m due to sign for my bail today but I’ve woken up really unwell. Is there anything I can do or will I have to drag myself out into the cold when I can’t stop being sick?

    • Rod Hayler says:

      You should always answer to bail if you are able to. If you have a reasonable excuse not to attend, you would need evidence to support that excuse and you would be expected to surrender to bail as soon as reasonably practicable. So if you are too unwell, you would need to obtain a note from your GP and you would need to attend the police station as soon as you are well enough.

  17. Bex says:

    My partner was placed on bail due to false allegations made against him (which should be proved in court) however his conditions state that he must reside at his home address until his court date in march. My questions is, can he adjust his conditions to place two addresses on his residency so he can sleep between both houses or is only one address allowed as a permanent residency?

    It was his first time in court when the conditions were implied so he was nervous and didn’t think to mention it straight away.

    • Camilla Rents says:

      In theory, it is possible for a court imposed bail condition to allow a person to reside at more than one address. However, every case is fact specific and it is not possible for us to advise whether this would be permissible in your partner’s case without having more information. Should you wish to receive specific advice, tailored to your individual circumstances, please contact our new enquiries team on 0207 8464 999.

  18. Olgaj says:

    Hello.

    Out on bail.n decent .
    put out of house but was ok for meet in public with child and partner.
    After month they changed to cannot have any contact. Police said yes for supervised still -child svcs said no .
    What are chances if go court to ask change back ?thank you

    • Rod Hayler says:

      It is difficult to provide you with advice on this without having more details about your case. If you would like to arrange a meeting, please contact us on 0207 8464 999 (preferably during office hours) or email us at [email protected]

  19. I’m on bail for suspected assault but I am court orderd to pick my kids up every fortnight from another city. I have been told by my neighbour that if I travel out of my city I will be in breach of my bail conditions but my police bail records form doesn’t include any travel restrictions. Would this be a breach of bail or am I ok to pick up my kids?

    • Rod Hayler says:

      Dear Robert
      If your bail conditions don’t include a specific condition requiring you to remain inside a particular city, then you would not be in breach of bail if you do travel outside the city. Such a provision would be quite unusual anyway. A residence condition, requiring you to live and sleep at a particular address, restricts where you can live but it does not stop you from travelling elsewhere during the day. An exclusion condition might prevent you from entering a defined area.
      You should pay close attention to the actual wording of your bail conditions. They must be sufficiently clear and precise so you know what you have to do (and not do) to comply.
      I hope that helps.
      Rod Hayler – Old Bailey Solicitors

  20. Fredi says:

    Hi I’m on bail for the second time until April to contact my partner . Can I be able to go to the school to see my kids

    • Rod Hayler says:

      Thank you for your comment. Whether or not you are permitted to attend your children’s school and/ or have contact with your children very much depends on the specific conditions of your bail. It is not possible to advise you on the basis of the information that you have provided, but if you do require specific advice in this regard, please contact our new enquiries team on 0207 8464 999.

  21. James Thomas says:

    I’m currently on bail and lost my job because I’m on bail is can I still look for another job

    • Rod Hayler says:

      Thanks for your comment. We cannot provide you with advice on this issue without sight of your bail conditions. However, it is rare for bail conditions to be imposed which prevent a suspect from obtaining work. If in doubt, it is worth contacting the officer investigating your case.

  22. Andrew wood says:

    Hi I have been on pre charge bail now for 5 months one of my conditions is to live and stay at a certain address would this mean I will not be able to take a weeks holiday still in the UK i have tried to get in contact with the Investigating officer but don’t get a return call

    • Rod Hayler says:

      Dear Andrew

      If you are subject to a condition of bail which requires you to reside at a particular address (especially if the wording is to live and sleep at that address) then you would have to obtain a variation to your bail before you could stay at another address. In many cases, the investigating officer will agree to a variation for a short period. If not, you can make an application to the Magistrates’ Court for a variation. You will need to provide details of the proposed holiday, preferably with evidence that you will be returning to your bail address immediately after the holiday.

      I hope that assists. If you require any further assistance, we can arrange a meeting, either in person or via Teams. Please contact us on [email protected] or call 0207 8464 999.

  23. Leanne says:

    Hi, My brother is on conditional bail which has just been extended from 3 months for another 2 months. Some of the conditions have already been lifted and a few still remain. My question is, I have read that the OIC should have allowed my brother to make his representations at least 5 days before his ABP was due to expire, this never happened. His bail has been extended by the OIC via text message. Is this normal procedure? Should my brother have been given the opportunity to represent himself before his bail was extended further? He has received no update throughout the initial 3 month period and only heard from the OIC via text message the day before he was due to answer bail. It all seems a little unlawful, please can you advise?

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