What is bail?
Bail is a written promise, known as a bail undertaking, that you will come to a certain court at a particular time and date and comply with any conditions included in the undertaking.
Click here for more information about Bail, including bail conditions.
What is a breach of bail?
You will be breaching your bail if you fail to comply with anything contained in your bail undertaking. This includes failing to attend court and failing to comply with any condition of your bail.
What happens if I breach my bail?
If you breach your bail, an arrest warrant may be issued by the court. An arrest warrant gives the police the authority to arrest you and keep you in custody until you are brought before the court. You must be brought before the court as soon as practicable.
Once you are before the court, you will have the opportunity to explain to the court why you have breached bail. The court will then either re-set your bail, or revoke it (take it away) and remand you in custody.
If you know you have breached your bail, you can take yourself to court instead of waiting to be arrested. This may assist you in having your bail re-set.
Certain breaches of bail are also an offence. The breaches that are an offence are failing to attend court without a reasonable excuse, breaching a protective bail condition and giving false information for bail purposes.
What happens if I fail to attend court?
If you are on bail and you fail to attend court without a reasonable excuse, you are in breach of your bail and may be arrested on a warrant and brought to court. You are also committing an offence that carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and maximum imprisonment of three years.
If you do miss your court date for any reason, you must still attend court as soon as possible afterwards and hand yourself in to the police at the court. This is part of your bail undertaking. It is best to hand yourself in rather than wait to be arrested as it shows the police and the court that you are not trying to avoid the charge.
What if I had a genuine reason for not attending court?
If you had a genuine reason or reasonable excuse for not being able to attend court, such as being medically unfit or because of an emergency, you should bring evidence of this with you when you hand yourself in at the court. For example, a medical certificate that shows you were unfit to attend court or a medical report to show you were in hospital at the time you were due in court. The police can take this information into account when considering whether to charge you with an offence of failing to attend court and the court can take it into account when considering whether to re-set your bail.
What if I am charged with an offence of failing to attend court?
If you are charged with failing to attend court and you believe you have a genuine reason or reasonable excuse for failing to attend, it is recommended that you get legal advice before you enter any plea to the charge, as you may have a defence.
If you are charged and convicted of failing to attend court, it will appear on your criminal record and may be taken into account if bail is being considered by a court for another offence in the future. It is therefore very important to avoid a charge of failing to attend court.
What if my bail has a surety condition and I fail to attend court?
If your bail has a surety attached to it and you fail to attend court, your surety may have to pay the amount of money specified in the surety undertaking. Go to Being a surety for more information.
What if there is a monetary amount attached to my bail and I fail to attend court?
If your bail undertaking includes a promise to pay a sum of money if you fail to attend court, then you may forfeit (have to pay) that sum if you fail to attend.
What if I know I am not going to be able to attend court?
If you are yet to appear in court and you have a good reason for not being able to attend on the date specified in your bail undertaking, you need to take steps to notify the court as early as possible. If you do this, it may be possible to change the court date or at least avoid a charge of failing to attend court.
If you have a lawyer representing you in court, you should let the lawyer know you cannot attend court on the date set. The lawyer may be able to get the matter adjourned (put off to another date) without you being there or organise for you to attend on an earlier date.
If you do not have a lawyer, you should telephone the court before you are due to appear and explain why you cannot appear. You should provide evidence supporting your reason for not being able to attend court. For example, a medical certificate could be faxed to the court with a request that the charge(s) be adjourned to a specific date.
You should telephone the court as soon after your original court date as possible, to see if the adjournment was allowed. If it was, you should note the new date you must attend court. If you have any documents to explain why you were not at court when the adjournment was granted, you should bring those documents with you to your next court date in case the court wishes to see them.
If the court did not agree to an adjournment, it is likely it would have issued a warrant for your arrest. When you telephone the court, you should ask whether an arrest warrant was issued. If you are told that an arrest warrant has been issued, you should hand yourself in to your local police station or the police at court immediately. Once again, if you have any documents to explain why you failed to attend court, you should take them with you.
What happens if I breach a protective bail condition?
Protective bail conditions are special bail conditions that may be imposed to ensure that nothing is done to endanger the safety, welfare or property of any person, or to ensure there is no interference with witnesses.
If you breach a protective bail condition you are committing a serious offence and it may be very difficult to get bail. The offence carries a maximum fine of $10,000 and maximum imprisonment of three years.
If you are convicted of an offence of breaching a protective bail condition, it will appear on your criminal record and may be taken into account if bail is being considered by a court for another offence in the future. It is therefore very important to avoid a charge of breaching a protective bail condition.
If you are charged with this offence, it is recommended that you get legal advice immediately.
Where can I get legal advice?
If you already have a lawyer representing you, you should contact that lawyer if you need advice and representation on any issue relating to bail.
If you are appearing in the Magistrates Court and you do not already have a lawyer, or you cannot contact your lawyer and you need advice and representation on any issue relating to bail, you should ask to see the duty lawyer from Legal Aid WA on the morning of your court appearance. Click here for information about the Duty Lawyer Service.
If you are an Aboriginal or Torres Straight Islander, the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia (ALSWA) may be able to assist you when you attend court.
Where can I get more information?
Last reviewed: 07/05/2013