Bail and surety

Introduction

If you are arrested and charged with an offence, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Because you are presumed innocent, you can be released from custody until your court date if you make a written commitment to appear in court, this is called bail. You may have to lodge money as part of your bail.

The court can refuse bail, if it believes that you are likely to commit an offence while out on bail. If you are sent for trial in the Special Criminal Court you cannot get bail unless the Director of Public Prosecutions allows it.

If you are arrested and charged with an offence, you will be brought before a District Court as soon as possible. You can make an application in court to be released from custody on bail.

Sureties or bails-persons

The court may not be satisfied with your promise to appear in court. It may decide that it needs an independent surety to guarantee your appearance. An independent surety is a person who makes themselves responsible for you coming to court. They promise to pay a sum of money to the court if you do not appear as agreed.

Types of bail

Station bail

When you are arrested and brought to a Garda station, the Garda in charge of the station may decide to release you on station bail, with or without sureties. They will decide the amount of money specified in the bail bond. You must enter into a bond to appear before the District Court on a specific date. They cannot release you on bail if there is a court warrant for your detention.

District Court bail

If you are arrested and detained, you will be brought to the District Court as soon as possible. At the District Court, your legal representative can apply to the judge for you to be released on bail. The judge can decide to hold you in custody or release you if you enter into a bail bond, with or without a surety. The amount of money specified in the bail bond is set by the judge.

The judge can decide to put conditions on your bail bond, these might include that you:

  • Have to remain in a certain area
  • Must report to a certain Garda at certain times
  • Surrender your passport or travel documents
  • Do not contact certain people

If you are granted bail you (or your surety) must pay the court at least one-third of the amount of money promised in the bail bond.

The Director of Public Prosecutions can appeal to the High Court if it is unhappy with decision to grant you bail, or the conditions of your bail.

If the District Court refuses bail, you will be remanded in custody. You can appeal the decision to the High Court.

High Court bail

The District Court cannot grant you bail if you are charged with:

In those cases, you or your legal representative must apply to the High Court for bail.

Will I be granted bail?

The District Court will consider the following factors when deciding if it will grant you bail:

The District Court will consider the following factors when deciding if it will grant you bail:

  • Whether you are likely to flee
  • Whether you are likely to commit a serious offence while on bail (A serious offence is one for which you can be punished by 5 years imprisonment or more.)
  • Whether you were caught red-handed
  • Whether you are likely to interfere with evidence, witnesses or jurors
  • Whether you have breached a bail bond before
  • Your character and previous criminal record
  • Your circumstances (whether you have a family, a job, a house)
  • Whether you have roots in the jurisdiction, for example, property, family, employment
  • Whether you are willing to keep to certain conditions, for example if you will surrender your passport
  • The seriousness of the offence
  • The likely sentence if you are convicted
  • The strength of the evidence against you
  • Whether the Gardaí object to you being granted bail

People who cannot be sureties or bails-persons

A court should consider the suitability of a person who is proposed as a surety, and the court can receive evidence about the financial resources of the person, their character and previous convictions. They can be rejected if it is clear that they could not pay the amount of money specified in the bail-bond if it was breached.

The following people may not be accepted as bails-persons:

  • The accused's solicitor
  • People under 18 years of age
  • People in custody
  • People with previous convictions
  • People who have recently been declared bankrupt by order of the court

Refusal of bail

If an application for bail is made by someone charged with a serious offence, the court can refuse the application. The grounds for refusal are set out in Section 2 of the Bail Act, 1997. The court can refuse the application if it is considered necessary in order to prevent the person from committing a serious offence while they are on bail. The court takes the following items into account when deciding whether to refuse bail:

  • Evidence or submissions about the nature and seriousness of the crime
  • The severity of the punishment for the offence
  • The strength of the case against the accused
  • The prospect of a reasonably speedy trial
  • The opposition of the Attorney General
  • The accused’s previous convictions, if any, including convictions that are the subject of an appeal (these are convictions which have not been determined or withdrawn)
  • Any other offences that the accused person is charged with and is awaiting trial for

Renewal of bail application

If you are refused bail, but after 4 months your trial still hasn’t started, then you can apply for bail again

What happens if I do not appear in court?

If you do not appear in court as agreed, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest. This means that the Gardaí have been ordered to arrest you and bring you before the court. You will lose the money that you or your independent surety agreed to pay in the bail bond.

Breaking the bail bond is a criminal offence. This offence carries a maximum penalty of a Class A fine and/or 12 months imprisonment. Once you have broken your bail bond once you will not be granted bail again in the future.

If you have reasonable cause for missing your court date you can present this to the court. Possible reasons might include an illness, family emergency or a family death. It is up to the court whether they accept your excuse.

Refund of bail money

Your bail money will be returned when your case ends and all conditions set by the court have been complied with. If you fail to appear in the court you will lose the money.
Page edited: 5 May 2021