Bail and custody
When charging you with a criminal offence, the police may place you in custody depending on the seriousness of the charges, whether you have other criminal matters and whether there is a risk that you may not attend court or commit further offences.
The type of offence you are charged with will determine whether you are entitled to bail from the police station or whether you need to make an application for bail at court. You can ask for a lawyer to help you prepare to apply for bail.
If police do not grant bail at the police station, they are required to bring you before a magistrate within a reasonable time. If a Magistrates’ Court is not open or it is not practical, a senior police officer may order that you be held in custody for further period before being presented to the court.
When an accused person is brought before the court they may make an application for bail, at that time or at some later time before the hearing of their case. There are different requirements in relation to bail for any accused person who is an Aboriginal person, a vulnerable adult or a person under the age 18.
If you are granted bail, you must sign an undertaking of bail form confirming you will attend court on the dates you are directed to go and that you agree to comply with any conditions of bail.
If you are worried an accused person may threaten or harm you or your family if released on bail, contact the police as soon as possible. See the Victims of Crime website for more information.
The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court operates a Bail and Remand Court between 10:00am and 9:00pm seven days a week, including public holidays.
See the Victoria Legal Aid website for information about applying for and varying conditions of bail. A list of bail forms can also be found at the bottom of the page.
Conditions of bail
An undertaking of bail is a promise to appear at court on a certain date to answer the charges. Bail can be granted with special conditions or no conditions.
The Bail Act 1977 contains a list of common bail conditions however the police, bail justice or court can also impose conditions that do not appear in the Bail Act.
The Magistrates’ Court can impose any number of special conditions on your bail that it considers appropriate including, but not limited to:
- not contacting certain people
- living at a certain address
- reporting to a local police station
- surrendering a passport.
If you are not required to provide a deposit or a surety, you are bailed on your own undertaking.
A surety is a person who pays or promises to pay money to the court if you fail to comply with your undertaking of bail. A surety must prove they can provide the amount fixed by the court. This may be done by providing money or proof of assets such as real property. If you do not comply with the undertaking of bail, the surety may lose their money or have their assets sold to recover the amount promised.
A deposit can be made by an accused person to provide security that they will attend court. A deposit is like a surety, except the deposit is given by the accused person rather than someone else. If you fail to appear, you may lose your deposit.
Accused persons on bail who do not follow bail conditions may be arrested. It is a criminal offence not to appear at court when required to do so.
This is not a full list of legislation associated with this topic. See the Victorian Government's legislation website for more information.