Tag Archives: Bail

Bail in South Africa

a3bIn any court case when a person is arrested, the accused person remains to be presumed not guilty until the court finds such person guilty.  In our law no one may be detained without trial. If an accused is arrested, he or she is normally kept in prison or the police cells till the trial is finalised to ensure the presence of the accused at court.

If the person wishes not to be imprisoned pending the finalisation of the trial, he or she may apply to the court to be released on warning or on warning with some conditions attached or on bail (with or without conditions).  Bail is the sum of money paid to the court or to the police. Bail is granted more readily when the accused is not a flight risk and can easily be found by law enforcement agencies. There is usually bail conditions set by the presiding officer that the accused must comply with.

What information should be obtained from the accused once s/he has been arrested?

  • When was the accused arrested?
  • What was the accused arrested for?
  • Where is the accused being detained?
  • What is the case number?
  • Who is the investigating officer?
  • What is the personal information of the accused, such as his/her name, surname, residential address, identity number, place of work, marital status, number of children, and next of kin?

Where can a person apply for bail?

The accused or his/her legal representative can apply for bail at the police station before the accused’s first court appearance, or at court.

What should a person do if bail is granted at the police station?

  • The amount set by the police official should be paid and the accused will be released from custody.
  • The police official will give a receipt and notice indicating the alleged criminal offence together with the date and time the accused should appear at court.

If the prosecution does not oppose the granting of bail, it does not automatically mean the court will grant bail. The court still has a duty to weigh up the personal interests of the accused against the interests of justice.

It is important to note that any person who has been released on bail and who does not, without good cause, appear at court on the due date, remain in attendance until the proceedings are complete, or who fails to comply with bail requirements, is guilty of an offence and will be liable to a fine or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year.

References:

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Bail or not

A1_bPeople are often outraged when they hear of accused persons who have been released on bail. In this article the factors to be considered when deciding whether someone should be let out on bail or not will be discussed. This will allow us to better understand why someone has been released on bail or why they have not.

According to section 35(1)(f) of the Constitution[1] everyone who is arrested for allegedly committing an offence has the right to be released from detention if the interests of justice permit, subject to reasonable conditions. This provision sets out that the law cannot take away an innocent person’s freedom arbitrarily but recognises that in certain circumstances it may be in the interests of justice to take away or limit this freedom.[2]

The next question that arises is how we know when the refusal to grant bail is in the interests of justice. According to section 60(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act[3] (CPA) the interests of justice do not permit the release from detention of an accused where one or more of the following grounds are established:

  1. Where there is the likelihood that the accused, if released on bail, will endanger the safety of the public or any particular person or will commit certain offences;
  2. Where there is the likelihood that the accused, if released on bail, will attempt to evade trial;
  3. Where there is the likelihood that the accused, if released on bail, will attempt to influence, intimidate or conceal witnesses or destroy evidence;
  4. Where there is the likelihood that the accused, if released on bail, will undermine or jeopardise the objectives or the proper functioning of the criminal justice system, including the bail system;
  5. Where there is the likelihood that the release of the accused will disturb the public order or undermine the public peace or security.[4]

In considering whether the grounds in (a) to (e) above have been established various factors, which are set out in Sections 5 – 9 of the CPA, may be taken into consideration, which include the following:

  • the degree of violence towards others implicit in the charge;
  • the accused’s ties to the place at which he or she is to be tried;
  • assets and travel documents held by the accused;
  • the accused’s relationship with the witnesses and the extent to which they could be influenced;
  • whether the accused supplied false information during his or her arrest or bail proceedings;
  • any previous failure to comply with bail conditions or indications that he or she will not comply with any bail condition;
  • whether the nature of the offence or the circumstances under which the offence was committed is likely to induce a sense of shock or outrage in the community; and
  • whether the shock or outrage of the community might lead to public disorder if the accused is released.[5]

The court decides whether the accused should be let out on bail by weighing the interests of justice against the right of the accused to his or her personal freedom and in particular the prejudice he or she is likely to suffer if he or she were to be detained in custody, and must take into account, inter alia, the period for which the accused has been in custody; the probable period of detention until the end of the trial if bail is not granted; the reason for any delay in the trial and any fault on the part of the accused; any impediment to the preparation of the accused’s defence due to the detention of the accused, and the accused’s state of health.[6]

When dealing with Schedule 5 and 6 offences the accused will be detained in custody unless the accused can show the court that it is in the interests of justice or that exceptional circumstances exist which permit his or her release, respectively. [7]

We can see from this article that the court must weigh up many factors against each other and although we do not always understand why accused persons are released on bail, anyone would want a fair bail application if they found themselves in that same position.

Bibliography:

  • The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996
  • J Chaskalson & Y De Jong – Criminal (In)Justice in South Africa, 2009:86
  • The Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977

[1] The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.

[2] J Chaskalson & Y De Jong – Criminal (In)Justice in South Africa, 2009:86.

[3] Section 60(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

[4] Section 60(4) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

[5] Section 60(5-9) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

[6] Section 60(10) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

[7] Section 60(11-12) of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)