It is very common for people who are charged with a crime to get bail.
This means that they will not be in jail, but instead they will be released into the community until the court case starts.
If they are held in custody, this is called remand.
Most people charged with a crime get bail, but rules are put in place to help keep victims safe.
If you are worried that the accused person may threaten or harm you, talk to police as soon as you can.
How bail works
People on bail must follow rules (called conditions) made by the court, and this includes rules that help keep victims and witnesses of the crime safe.
Some common rules for being on bail are:
- agreeing to come to court when the case starts
- not contacting you or other witnesses
- having counselling or medical treatment
- living at a particular address
- regularly reporting to a police station.
If the accused person does not follow the rules, bail can be taken away. The police may apply to the court to take away bail and will return the accused person to custody.
How is bail granted?
The accused person must apply for bail. They can do this at any time from when they are charged with the crime until the case goes to court.
If they do not get bail, they can apply again. They must show the court that there are new facts and circumstances since the first time they applied.
Even if the person has confessed to the police that they committed the crime, they can still be released on bail. This is because the law in Victoria says that people are innocent until they are proven guilty at court.
If the accused person does not get bail they will be held in custody. This is sometimes called ‘remand’ or being ‘remanded in custody’.
An accused person may be remanded in custody if they:
- do not apply for bail
- are refused bail by the police or court
- cannot provide a deposit or surety that they will follow the rules or conditions of their bail if the court requires this.
While an accused person is remanded in custody, they are:
- usually held in a remand prison, rather than a general prison
- generally kept separate from offenders who have been convicted.
If the accused person is convicted of the crime, the time spent in remand may count towards their sentence.
Can victims or witnesses have a say about bail?
Before granting bail, the court should consider how you feel about the accused person being released.
If you are worried that the accused person may threaten or harm you or your family if they are released on bail, talk to your police contact as soon as possible before bail is granted.
The police should tell you:
- if the person accused of committing the crime against you is released on bail
- any conditions that protect you or your family from the accused person.
You need to tell the police that you want to get this information.
Bail applications can be refused
Bail may be refused if the police or the courts believe that there is an unacceptable risk that the accused person might:
- not appear in court
- commit further offences while on bail
- endanger the safety or welfare of the public
- interfere with witnesses for the court case.
Your safety is important and there are things that can be done to improve it.
- call police on Triple Zero (000) if you are in immediate danger
- contact the police officer in charge of your case if you are worried the accused person will threaten or harm you or your family
- talk to the Victims of Crime Helpline on 1800 819 817 about your concerns and get advice
- read more on this website on practical steps you can take to improve your safety.