4.1.1 Bail is when an accused person is released from custody because of a bond or promise made either by the accused or by another person (often referred to as a “surety”) to guarantee that they will appear in court for their trial.
- If the accused is granted bail in the District Court they (or their surety) must pay into court at least one-third of the amount of money promised in the bail bond. This money will be returned to them if they appear in court as promised.
- The Director of Public Prosecutions can appeal the decision to grant the accused bail or the conditions of their bail to the High Court. Unfortunately, AdVIC contends, this does not happen often enough.
4.2 Bail in Practice
4.2.1 The District Court cannot grant bail where an accused is charged with murder, attempted murder or conspiracy to murder, to name but three.
- Note however that anyone charged with any of the above offences can still apply to the High Court for a Bail order.
4.3 How the Courts decide
4.3.1 The granting of bail will depend on a number of factors and the Court may consider any or all of these when making their decision including whether the accused was “ (i) caught in the act (i) his or her “character,” (iii) evidence of any previous criminal record (iv) whether employed or not and (v) the likelihood of absconding – to name but five.
- Often an accused will live close to the family of the victim while they are on bail. As the accused may be on bail for months or even years, an impossible situation is then created for the family of the victim in the locality. Bail conditions are not rigorously monitored and so intimidation is rife, partcularly when it comes to gangland crime.
4.4.1 We propose amending legislation to ensure that Bail will no longer be granted where an unlawful killing has occurred.
- We further propose that a person convicted of, or pleading guilty to, any unlawful killing should not be released on bail while awaiting sentencing.
- When considering a bail application the court must be obliged to consider that the applicant may live in the area of the victim’s family. If this is the case AdVIC is calling for the court to refuse bail on the grounds of the potential fear and intimidation that will often result for relatives and friends of the victim.
- We further call for amending legislation to ensure that where Gardai object to Bail for all violent offences, that this should be the judge’s sole determining criteria in deciding whether Bail should be granted.
- Furthermore, those previously convicted of any serious offence(s) should not be able to apply for bail under any circumstances when they have been accused of a newer serious offence.
- We call for legislation to be enacted to reflect that a crime committed while an accused is on bail is automatically regarded as a “serious offence” regardless of the nature of the crime. This new offence must never then be considered as a crime that can be punished concurrently with the original crime, rather consecutively to it. Furthermore, as the serious offence was committed on bail, AdVIC calls for this to be reflected in a longer term when sentencing.