Recent developments that apply to the granting of bail in Jersey
The Criminal Procedure (Bail) (Jersey) Law 2017, which came into force this summer, has led to some changes in the way that bail is granted to those facing criminal charges in Jersey.
Bail before charge
If a person has been arrested, but has not yet been charged with an offence, the police/Centeniers now have the power to release them subject to bail conditions. Those conditions can be whatever is necessary for the purpose of achieving the following aims:
- securing the person’s attendance at the police station or parish hall;
- preventing the person from committing an offence while on bail;
- preventing the person from interfering with witnesses or otherwise obstructing the course of justice, whether in relation to himself or herself or any other person;
- protecting the person’s welfare, or if he or she is under the age of 18, for that person’s own welfare or in his or her own interests.
You are able to request of the police or the Centenier that the condition be removed, and in considering this request, they have the power to remove the condition or replace the condition with a more onerous one.
You can then apply to the Magistrate to review the condition, but there is no right of appeal from the Magistrate’s decision.
There is a six month time limit to bail without charge, although this can be extended by the Magistrate, upon an application being made prior to the time limit expiring. Again, there is no right of appeal on this.
When a person in police detention is charged with an offence, the Centenier can impose bail conditions. It does not matter whether you came to be in police detention voluntarily or under arrest. The point is that this power comes into effect when you are charged by the Centenier.
The Centenier is obliged by law to order the person’s release (on bail conditions or without bail conditions) unless:
- The person’s name or address cannot be ascertained or the Centenier has reasonable grounds for doubting the information given already;
- The Centenier has reasonable grounds for believing that the person will, if granted bail, fail to surrender to court;
- The Centenier has reasonable grounds for believing that the detention is necessary to prevent further offences;
- The Centenier believes that detention is necessary to obtain a sample connected with the investigation;
- The Centenier has reasonable grounds to believe that detention is necessary to prevent the person interfering with the administration of justice or the investigation of a particular offence or offences;
- The Centenier has reasonable grounds for believing that the detention of the person is necessary for his or her own protection.
You can apply to the Centenier to have the condition lifted or changed. The Centenier must make this determination within 96 hours of the request and must also provide the person with written reasons for the decision.
Where a Centenier either imposes the conditions, or refuses to vary the conditions, the person charged may apply to the Magistrate to review the Centenier’s decision.
The Magistrate has the power to remove any condition and impose a more onerous one, including overturning the Centenier’s decision to grant bail and remand the person into custody. There is no further right of appeal.
Therefore it appears that if you voluntarily attend at the police station, bail conditions cannot be imposed on you by the police or the Centenier unless you are charged.
General right to bail
There is a general right to bail unless statutory exceptions apply. Those exceptions are:
Bail may be denied in the following circumstances:
- If the court is satisfied that there are substantial grounds for believing that the Defendant would fail to surrender to custody; commit an offence whilst on bail; interfere with witnesses;
- If the court is satisfied that the Defendant should be kept in custody for their own protection, or if the Defendant is under 18, for their own own welfare;
- If it has not been practicable to obtain sufficient information for the purposes of taking decisions required under this Schedule for want of time since the institution of proceedings against the Defendant;
- Where the Defendant’s case is adjourned for inquiries or a report and it appears to the court that it would be impracticable to complete the inquiries or make the report without keeping the defendant in custody;
- Where a Defendant has been convicted of an offence punishable with imprisonment and is awaiting sentence;
- If the Defendant is in custody serving a sentence of imprisonment.
It is important to realise that the issue of bail can be revisited throughout your case. If you enter a guilty plea to the charge, your right to bail can be affected and this is something that you should discuss with your lawyer.
If you have any questions about this, please contact Rebecca Morley-Kirk on 01534 888666 or Rebecca.Morley-Kirk@viberts.com.