The ins and outs of bail laws

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danielA violent attack at Nepean Hospital last week, in which a police officer and security guard were shot, has brought back to the fore debate about bail laws in NSW.

The media has been rife with argument that last week’s event was a result of the offender having been released on bail only hours before the incident occurred. This article aims to give some insight into NSW bail laws.

There are typically two types of bail.

The first type is bail granted by the police whereby an offender is arrested, charged, and deemed to be fit for release back into the community to return to Court to have their matter heard at a later date. This is the type of bail that was granted to the offender in the above case.

The second type of bail is bail granted by a Magistrate or Judge. This occurs when police refuse to grant bail and the matter comes before a Court, who will deem whether or not granting the offender bail would pose an “unacceptable risk” to the community.

An accused person is considered an unacceptable bail risk if they may fail to appear in Court, have committed a serious offence, may be a danger to victims or other members of the community, or there is some risk that they will interfere with evidence or witnesses if they are released.

Based on what we know about the case above, it appears that the offender was picked up by police and charged for offences relating to break and enter on the day in question.

There is no evidence that he had any prior criminal record at that time. There is some evidence that he had resisted arrest in relation to that offence, but no evidence that he had a history of violence.

In the circumstances, police saw it fit to grant the offender bail – a decision that will no doubt continue to polarise members of the community as the case goes to trial.

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