Articles:

COVID-19 and Bail Applications 

man behind bars 

Covid-19 has changed a number of things about our daily lives. This includes how the criminal justice system is dealing with matters such as applications for bail.  Covid-19 is, in some circumstances, a relevant consideration for the court in deciding whether to grant bail. It is being raised in a number of different ways by defence counsel as a factor which can influence the court’s decision.  

What do courts ordinarily consider?

The Bail Act 1982 (WA) governs the things that the courts look at when deciding whether or not to grant bail. Ordinarily, after the court has considered the questions in Schedule 1 Part C, clause 1 of the Act, the court will grant bail unless it is satisfied that an accused should be kept in custody.

This section of the act asks a number of things, including:

  • How strong the Prosecution case is;
  • Whether the alleged offence is too serious for bail to be appropriate;
  • How long any possible prison sentence might be;
  • Whether the accused’s criminal history, or a history of breaching their bail conditions;
  • Whether or not an accused is a flight risk;
  • Whether or not the accused is a danger to themselves or others; and
  • What the effect of not being granted bail might be on the accused’s business, children or family.

How does Covid-19 affect the court’s considerations?

There are two main reasons that Covid-19 may result in bail being granted – Vulnerability and Delay.

  • Vulnerability – particular vulnerabilities  that an accused person has by being in custody might be amplified by Covid-19 – and this is  important to any potential bail application. Examples include being asthmatic, immunocompromised, having cognitive or mental health impairments, having a diagnosed chronic medical condition, or being pregnant. Examples also include groups within our community such as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people and the elderly.
  • Delay – courts in WA are required take into consideration the length of time you will likely be in custody before your matter is resolved. WA courts are not currently holding jury trials, and many other court hearings and procedures are being postponed to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission. This is already leading to increased delays of more than one year – which is a very long time to be in custody for an accused person on remand.

Covid-related considerations must still be balanced against all other considerations.

Recent bail applications in the context of Covid-19

Recently in a case in Victoria the possibility of significant delays in the justice process due to Covid-19 were considered to be ‘extraordinary’. In that case  bail was granted after a judge considered the substantial effects that being in custody would have on the applicant’s relationship with her family. The applicant was also likely to spend longer in custody, without bail, than she would if she was found guilty and sentenced.

Recently in Queensland, an applicant was granted bail after the judge accepted that there were difficulties with the prosecution’s case against the defendant and the suggestion that Covid-19 would result in significant delays in finalising the proceedings.

In another recent Queensland case an applicant was denied bail despite Covid-19 causing delays in finalising matters. The judge considered the Covid-related delays as a ‘material change of circumstances’ – however also considered that substantial delay, alone, was not enough to grant bail. In this case there was a strong prosecution case, the applicant had a significant criminal history and there was potential for a long prison sentence if convicted. The judge considered that these things outweighed the delays caused by Covid-19, and refused bail.

What this all means is that bail applications in the context of Covid-19 should be made with particular attention to any delays of trial dates, the health risks of an accused in custody waiting for trial, as well as the strength of the prosecution’s case.

Recently, Andrew Williams Barrister and Solicitor had a client who was released on bail after a lengthy remand period because there were  lengthy delays in the court process due to Covid-19, in addition to uncertainty about the status of the prosecution’s case and whether it was in a position to proceed.

Andrew Williams is an experienced criminal lawyer in bail applications. If you or one of your loved ones want to make an application for bail during Covid-19 times, contact the Law Offices of Andrew Williams on (08) 9278 2575 or  enquire online today. 

Andrew Williams Barrister and Solicitor remains open during these changing times and is ready to assist those in need of criminal legal advice and assistance. 

Related Article: PREPARING A BAIL APPLICATION

Contact our lawyers now

At Andrew Williams Criminal Law we're here to help you with the best legal advice.

Testimonials Hear from our valued Clients

I had Andrew deal with my case recently and couldn't of been happier with the result he got for me. From the start Andrew was quick to reply to any questions and queries I had regarding my matter. He was very professional in my opinion, very easy to talk to and explained things quite well. I felt very comfortable in the courtroom knowing that Andrew wanted to get the best result he could for me, and I would highly recommend Andrew Williams to ...

Colin W

I was on a very tight rope where if it balanced the wrong way it would have totally devastated my life.  Andrew was honest through the entire process preparing me for the worst but never let me give up and thankfully with his help got a great outcome that let me move forward with my family .I cant praise Andrew enough and recommend him 100%

...

Jason M

I cannot thank Andrew enough for his support and would not hesitate recommending your service to anyone who would need your help. I am eternally grateful to Andrew Williams who kept me informed as and when he had to and had no doubt in his professionalism. Thank you.

...

Pamela J
Pamela J

Had Andrew defend a reckless driving charge. He gave good solid advice throughout the process and defended me well at the trial. His costs were affordable and he was a great guy in general. The most important thing is we were able to have the charges dismissed via a not guilty verdict. I would recommend him to anyone.

...

Joly M
Joly M

Andrew represented me recently in a few difficult situations. I found him to be very professional, easily contactable and generally wanting a good outcome for me. I've passed his contact info to friends and if I ever need legal representation again I'll definitely be using his services.

...

Ryan B
Ryan B

After making several calls to various law firms, I came across Andrew Williams who was quick to respond providing knowledgeable, honest and friendly legal advice. At all times I felt confident in Andrew's ability to defend the charges. The case went to trial with an outcome of not guilty. I was awarded full legal costs. Could not be happier.

...

Matt K
Matt K

I trusted that Andrew was the person to defend my case in our initial contact on the phone. He was very confident in his approach, from the first point of contact to the court room. I believe this must be from years of experience. Another added bonus for Andrew is that he is very honest and fair. He tells you like it is in the book of law and does not appear manipulative. His communication skills helped me help him to form a best defensive arg...

Abraham A

Unhappy with my then representation, I went searching for a new lawyer. Andrew responded quickly and professionally to my enquiry. It was quickly apparent during the first meeting that Andrew was knowledgeable, honest and was committed to getting us the best possible outcome. Andrew looked at all avenues available to me in a Magistrates Court matter. He negotiated on my behalf with the prosecution, attended 3 court hearings and defended my ple...

Timothy R

After being charged with Common Assault of a minor I made a sensible decision not to use the local Kununurra law firm. I engaged Andrew Williams to assist me with resolving this matter (to the point of me being awarded costs). Despite being 4000km away I never had any issues with Andrew's commitment to my case. He promptly returned all calls and demanded I do likewise when important information needed to be exchanged. I found him to be an inte...

David C

Andrew Williams is a laywer of much dedication I will never have the words of gratitude and admiration for his honesty and integrity I would highly recommend him to anyone who may require his services in the future

...

Helen L

I just wanted to take my time to explain my experience with Andrew Williams. I had an incident that could have really affected my future. As anyone does I called around all the lawyers in Perth and just not any lawyer but the ones who are highly respected amongst other lawyers and get the results. I have a friend who works in the industry and she recommended Andrew. She said she always sees Andrew in the paper with amazing outcomes to cases th...

Phillip C

Very happy with my representation and fees by Andrew, I highly recommend him.

...

Damian A

I found dealing with Andrew Williams Law Firms to be quite pleasant and professional. I have nothing but utmost regard for this firm and would recommend anyone who needs a good criminal lawyer.

...

Andrew H

Go to top