Recent changes to the Bail Act mean that people charged
with serious offences have to meet more onerous requirements before
the Court will consider bail.
The changes are in response to a public outcry over crimes
committed by people who were allowed back into the community on
bail after they had been arrested and charged with serious crimes
such as sexual assault or robbery.
Stacks Law Firm criminal lawyer Jessica Mackay said public anger
about people who commit crimes whilst on bail is
"But at the same time it is important to remember that bail
is a fundamental component of a person's right to be presumed
innocent until proven guilty," Ms Mackay said.
"Typically, a person applying for bail in the Local Court
was arrested the day before, so the Court will know nothing about
the case and allegations made by police may not yet be supported by
"Courts have a very difficult task in striking the right
balance between a person's right to be presumed innocent, and
the importance of protecting the community against potentially
People accused of the most serious offences now have to
"show cause" to the Court why being held in custody while
awaiting trial is not justified. For other offences, section 19 of
the Bail Act's new stricter guidelines requires the
Court to decide whether the charged person presents an
"unacceptable risk" to the community
Such risks include the possibility of endangering the safety of
the victim or other individuals, interfering with a witness, being
part of an organized crime group, and the accused's history of
complying with previous bail.
The tough new bail conditions in NSW were modeled on similar
bail laws in Victoria and Queensland.
Ms Mackay said bail can be vital for an accused person to
prepare their defence with help from their lawyer and to receive
family support. These changes make it even more important to have
expert legal representation in Court.
"Having effective representation is crucial when it comes
to bail. It can mean the difference between a charged person being
released from custody on bail and having to wait for a long time
long in custody, months possibly even years, until their case is
finally determined by the Court."
An experienced criminal lawyer can point out whether the
prosecution's case is strong or not to assist in obtaining
"A skilled lawyer can help applicants for bail explain to
the Court the sorts of conditions that the person is willing to
abide by to satisfy the Court there is no unacceptable risk,"
Ms Mackay said.
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