What is bail?
Every criminal offence in Scotland is bailable. That means if you are a person accused with committing a crime, you can remain at liberty until your date of trial if you adhere to certain bail conditions.
What is a bail undertaking?
A bail undertaking is a form issued to an accused person following police custody. An accused person will have been taken to a police station, cautioned, and charged and then released on undertaking conditions to appear at court on a specified date and time. The accused person must sign the undertaking form which includes the nature of the offence, personal details of the accused and the details when to appear at court. Once an undertaking form is signed, an accused person is effectively on bail and will remain so until the conclusion of the case.
Failure to adhere to the conditions of bail can result in future arrest. Breaching undertaking conditions is a separate criminal charge. Bail undertakings are now extremely common throughout Scotland and are used to ensure that an accused person complies fully following their original arrest. When an accused person attends at court on the specified date and time, a complaint will be served on them which includes the charge or charges and a brief summary of evidence. At the first calling of the case, the accused person will likely tender a plea to the complaint before seeking bail from the court. Often, bail is continued in a similar manner to the conditions previously issued following police custody.
What are bail conditions?
The standard conditions of bail include:
- An accused person will attend all future court dates
- An accused person will not interfere with witnesses or tamper with evidence
- An accused person will not commit any further offences
- An accused person will not contact witnesses nor attempt to cause them harm
- An accused person will make themselves available if the court requires
There are further special conditions that may be imposed at court and relate to prohibiting an accused person from contacting a witness directly nor attending at their address. Such conditions are dependent on the nature and severity of the case. The court may also impose a curfew in relation to an accused person thus restricting their movement within their home from 7pm until 7am. Again, such conditions are dependent on the age of the accused and previous criminal history. Bail conditions remain in place until the conclusion of the case therefore should not be breached.
Reviewing bail conditions
Bail conditions can be reviewed by the court. The procedure is straight-forward: the accused’s solicitor will lodge an application with the court and a hearing will be fixed, usually not later than 14 days from the lodging of the application.
The accused must be able to demonstrate that there has been either a material change in circumstance giving rise to the change to the bail order or there is now material information that was not previously available to the court when the conditions were imposed.
In a case where conditions prevent contact between two people, for example husband and wife, the court will wish to hear the views of the complainer. This usually takes the form of a letter or email sent to both the accused’s solicitor and the local Procurator Fiscal’s office.
Any correspondence should outline the views of the victim/complainer regarding the removal of the special bail condition.
Even if correspondence is received wishing to amend Bail Conditions the attitude of the Procurator Fiscal will be taken into account. The decision to remove any condition is ultimately a decision for a Sheriff considering each individual case.
Contact McGovern Reid Court Lawyers
If you have been released from police custody by way of undertaking then get in touch today. McGovern Reid have a wealth of experience throughout Scotland’s Criminal Courts and are available 24 hours a day. We recognise the difficulties people have when dealing with the criminal justice system and are always able to offer a helping hand.
We operate a 24/7 emergency phone number which is always answered by one of our lawyers, you can also complete our online enquiry form.
When in need, Call McGovern Reid!