Bail laws review

Simon Power has just announced a review and consultation on bail laws.

This is additional to the reversal of the change made by Labour in 2007 which made it easier for people to get . This was repealed straight after the election.

Some interesting stats:

  • Under 2% of defendents are remanded in custody for the entire period between arrest and trial
  • Around 9% of defendents spend some time in custory and some time on bail
  • The proportion of defendants that offended on bail has increased from 15.7% in 2004 to 17.9% in 2008
  • Over the five years 2004 – 2008, 64,659 defendents were convicted of commiting an offence while on bail
  • Of those who offend while on bail, 34% got a community based sentence, 30% imprisonment and 21% a fine

The questions the Government is asking are:

  1. What is your view on whether there should be a reverse burden of proof for defendants charged with serious class A drug offences (i.e. should they have to prove that they should be granted bail instead of the prosecution having to prove that they should not)?
  2. What is your view on whether electronically monitored bail should continue to be an option for defendants charged with serious methamphetamine offences?
  3. What is your view on whether the Courts should be able to release defendants charged with murder on bail
  4. What is your view on whether there should be a reverse burden of proof for defendants charged with murder (i.e. should they have to prove that they should be granted bail instead of the prosecution having to prove that they should not)?
  5. What is your view on whether new offences should be added to the list of specified offences that qualify for a reverse burden of proof (if the defendant has a previous conviction for one of those offences)? What criteria should be used to assess which offences to add to the list of specified offences?
  6. What is your view on whether electronically monitored bail should continue to be an option for defendants charged with serious violent and sexual offences?
  7. What is your view on whether the presumption in favour of bail for 17 to 19 year olds should apply to defendants who have previously served a prison sentence?
  8. What is your view on whether breach of any condition of bail should be a ground for arresting a defendant under 17 years of age without a warrant?
  9. Do you think that any further requirements or safeguards are needed to prevent bail being granted inappropriately in return for information? If so, do you agree with the Government’s proposal to insert a legislative provision into the Bail Act 2000 and are any other requirements or safeguards needed?
  10. Are there any other non-legislative measures that could be used to reduce the number of defendants that fail to answer bail?
  11. What is your view on whether the maximum penalty for failure to answer Court bail should be increased? If you think it should be increased, what should it be increased to?
  12. What is your view on whether the maximum penalty for failure to answer Police bail should be increased? If you think it should be increased, what should it be increased to?
  13. What is your view on whether monetary bonds and sureties should be reintroduced in the District Court?
  14. What is your view on whether monetary bonds and sureties should be abolished for Police bail?
  15. What is your view on whether the EM bail regime should be set out in legislation?
  16. What is your view on whether breach of EM bail should be an offence in addition to being a ground for arrest and reconsideration of bail?
  17. What is your view on whether time spent on EM bail should be taken into account in sentencing?
  18. If time spent on EM bail is taken into account in sentencing, should there be some legislative guidance to assist the Courts in determining the appropriate discount (e.g. a set formula or guidelines specifying the types of factors relevant to deciding how time spent on EM bail should be taken into account)?

My general instincts are that the criteria for getting bail should not change much (remember not everyone charged is found guilty) but that the penalties for offending on bail should be increased.

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