An accused person who is granted bail is under a duty to attend court in accordance with the undertaking of bail and to surrender themselves into custody when so attending (s 5(1A) Bail Act).
Failing to appear in court
A person released on bail who fails without reasonable cause to appear in accordance with the undertaking of bail and surrender themselves into custody is guilty of an offence. This carries a penalty of two years’ imprisonment. The accused has a defence to such a charge if it can be proven that there are reasonable grounds for their failure to appear (s 30 Bail Act).
Contravening a bail condition
It is an offence to contravene a bail condition without a reasonable excuse (see s 30A(1) Bail Act; see also the definition of ‘conduct condition’ in ss 3, 5AAA(4)). The offence does not apply to a condition requiring the accused to attend and participate in bail support services. The offence also does not apply to a child released on bail.
It is also an offence for a person to commit an indictable offence while on bail (s 30B Bail Act). Both these offences carry a maximum penalty of three months’ imprisonment or 30 penalty units. (For more information about penalty units, see ‘A note about penalty units’ at the start of this book.)
Infringement notices for breaching minor bail conditions
Police officers can issue infringement notices for the offence of breaching a bail condition (s 32A Bail Act). The infringement notices are used for minor contraventions (e.g. breaching a reporting condition by being late). The infringement penalty for an offence against section 30A is one penalty unit.
Arresting people on bail
Any police officer (or a protective services officer on duty at a railway premises or in the surrounding area) may arrest without warrant any person who has been released on bail if it is believed on reasonable grounds that the person is likely to break, is breaking, or has broken any bail condition (s 24 Bail Act; definition of ‘designated place’ in s 3(1) Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic); reg 27 Victoria Police Regulations 2014 (Vic)).
The court may issue warrants for the arrest of a person bailed where the person has failed to answer bail or for the purpose of imposing additional conditions or security (s 25 Bail Act). A bail decision-maker may also issue a warrant for the arrest of a person bailed for the purpose of imposing a further security (s 26).
A police officer who arrests an accused person who is on bail, but who is suspected of breaching their bail, must bring that person before a bail justice as soon as practicable and in any event within 24 hours. The bail justice can:
- release the person on their original undertaking; or
- release the person on a new undertaking with or without conditions or sureties; or
- revoke bail and remand the person in custody.