Applying for bail

What is bail?

Bail is a written promise known as a bail undertaking to appear in court on a particular date.

If you’re charged with an offence, bail allows you to go home to wait for your court hearing rather than remain in custody. It can be granted at any stage of a criminal proceeding.

You may be granted bail on your own undertaking by a police officer or a court. However, bail might be refused for particular reasons, or if you have been charged with serious offences. .

Sometimes your bail will have conditions attached, such as surrendering your passport, staying at the same address or reporting to police.

An important bail condition is that you do not commit further offences while on bail.

Types of bail

Watch house bail

If police arrest and charge you with an offence, they may grant you watch house bail. Upon release, you must attend court on the date stated on your bail undertaking and comply with any bail conditions.

Court bail

If the police refuse to grant you watch house bail, you can apply to the court for bail. If the court agrees, the police must release you once you sign the bail undertaking, though it may take a few hours to release you.

If the court refuses to grant bail, you can apply to the Supreme Court for bail.

If your offence is very serious (e.g. murder) you can only apply to the Supreme Court for bail. You cannot apply to the Magistrates Court that is hearing your charges.

Extending your bail

If at your court appearance your court matter is adjourned to another day, you can ask the court to enlarge extend your bail to that date and time. You do not need to sign a new bail undertaking if your bail is enlarged as your bail conditions will remain the same.

How to apply for bail

Legal Aid provides a self-help kit to help you apply for bail.

Queensland Corrective Services have agreements with organisations in certain correctional centres to provide services to prisoners who are on remand to apply for bail. Through these services, prisoners can obtain legal advice, support to gather material for their application and in some cases, attendance in court on their behalf to advocate for their release to bail.

Men who are on remand can access assistance to apply through Prisoners Legal Service. This service is offered to prisoners who are in Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre.

Women who are on remand can access assistance to apply for bail through a service provided by Sister’s Inside Inc. This service is offered in Townsville Women’s Correctional Centre, Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre and Numinbah Correctional Centre.

What the court considers

The court will usually grant you bail unless there is a risk of you:

  • committing further offences
  • endangering another person
  • obstructing the course of justice
  • failing to appear in court.

Additionally, the court will consider:

  • the type of offence
  • the evidence against you
  • whether you have a place to live, job, criminal record or children
  • any submissions made by a community justice group representative (where applicable)
  • whether your charges relate to domestic and family violence matters
  • whether you have someone to provide a surety (a sum of money to the court, which will be forfeited if you breach bail)
  • whether you can and will comply with bail conditions
  • whether you are in a 'show cause position' (see below).

Breaching bail

Failing to comply with bail conditions is an offence and may result in your bail being revoked. You could even be rearrested.

If you breach bail such as by failing to appear in court or not complying with a condition you should seek legal advice immediately; you will have to appear before the court to explain why you breached bail.

After getting legal advice it is recommended that you, go to the police station yourself, rather than waiting for the Police to arrest you. You will be taken into custody and then to court on the next court day.

You can plead guilty to breaching your bail or plead not guilty and explain to the court. If the court accepts your guilty plea or finds you guilty, it may convict and sentence you for the breach with a fine or possibly prison. After you’re sentenced, you can re-apply for bail if it was revoked.

Show cause position

Some bail breaches will put you in a 'show cause position', meaning you must show the court why you should be granted bail. This makes it more difficult to get bail again.

Such bail breaches include failing to appear in court, or committing an offence while on bail.

Changing bail conditions

If your bail undertaking states that police can vary your bail, you can apply to the police or court to vary change your bail conditions.

If it doesn’t state this, you must apply to the court to vary your bail.

Variations can include changing your address, the police station you must report to, or the days or number of days you must report.

Further information

Information about bail (Legal Aid Queensland)