Failure to Answer Bail

– section 30 of the Bail Act 1977

Failure to Answer Bail
Failure to Answer Bail is when someone has been released from custody and is required to attend Court but failed to do so.

Examples of Failure to Answer Bail
  • A man has been released from jail and has a court date to answer bail but does not attend Court on this date.
What are some of the possible defences to a charge of Failure to Answer Bail?
  • You had a medical emergency.
  • You have a reasonable excuse.

It is not a defence that you forgot, unless there is a medical emergency

There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this
  • If you did not attend Court, why did you not attend?

 

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for this offence is level 7 imprisonment (2 years).

This is a summary charge which means that it will generally be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

“Did you forget to go to Court?”
What is the legal definition of Failure to Answer Bail?

Failure of a person released on bail, without reasonable excuse, to attend in accordance with his or her undertaking of bail and to surrender himself or herself into custody.

Legislation

The section that covers this offence is section 30 of the Bail Act 1977.1

Elements of the offence

For an accused to be proven guilty of this charge, the following elements must be established in court:

  • The accused was released on bail.
  • The accused failed to attend in accordance with his undertaking of bail and to surrender himself into custody.
  • The accused had no reasonable cause, the proof whereof lies upon him, for said failure to attend.

Failure to do so would mean that the accused is not guilty of the offence.

“Did you fail to come to Court?”

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?

You will most likely get a fine or a Community Corrections Order if you are found guilty. However if you have previously been convicted of this offence you may receive a prison sentence.

Sentencing in the higher courts

There were 181 charges of section 30(1) Fail to Answer Bail that were heard in the higher courts of Victoria from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2016. Most of these charges resulted in imprisonment at 59.7% of all charges. Other sentences imposed include:

  • Community Correction Order – 12.2%
  • Fine – 12.2%
  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 7.7%
  • Wholly Suspended Sentence – 5.5%
  • Partially Suspended Sentence – 1.7%
  • Youth Justice Centre Order – 1.1

Of the charges that led to prison, 86.1% were sentenced to a term that was less than a year. The highest term imposed was between 1 and 2 years but this was applied in only 0.9% of the charges.

Financial penalties were below $1,000 (90.9%) while terms of Community Correction Orders were most frequently between 2 and 3 years (45.4%).1

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in the higher courts earlier than that of the Magistrates’ Court, and therefore all offences committed on or after 1 September 2013 will not have this available as a sentencing option.2

Sentencing in the Magistrates’ Courts

In the Magistrates’ Courts, there were a total of 17,879 cases (28,529 charges) of section 30(1) Fail to Answer Bail that were heard from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2016. Most of these cases led to Fines (30.8%) closely followed by Community Correction Orders (30.6%). Other penalties imposed were:

  • Imprisonment – 17.8%
  • Adjourned Undertaking/Discharge/Dismissal – 14.8%
  • Wholly Suspended Sentence – 4.3%
  • Partially Suspended Sentence – 1.2%
  • Youth Justice Centre Order – 0.3%
  • Others – 0.3%

Of the charges that led to fines, majority fell under the “$500 < $1,000" category (36.4%, aggregate) and "Less than 500" category (9.5%, non-aggregate). The highest amount of fine imposed was between $10,000 and $20,000 (0.1%, aggregate). Majority of Community Correction Orders (CCO) were between 12 and 18 months (51.0%, non-aggregate). The highest term imposed was 24+ months but this was applied in only 9.2% (non-aggregate) of the charges that led to CCO.3

Please note that suspended sentences were abolished in Victoria for all offences committed on or after 1 September 2014.4

Other Important Resources
Case Studies

 



[1] Sentencing Advisory Council. “SACStat Higher Courts – Bail Act 1977 (Vic): s 30(1) – fail to answer bail.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/higher_courts/HC_9008_30_1.html (accessed February 25, 2019).
[2] Sentencing Advisory Council. “Abolished Sentencing Orders.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/abolished-sentencing-orders (accessed February 25, 2019).
[3] Sentencing Advisory Council. “SAC Statistics – Bail Act 1977 (Vic): s 30(1) – fail to answer bail.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/sacstat/magistrates_court/9008_30_1.html (accessed February 25, 2019).
[4] Sentencing Advisory Council. “Abolished Sentencing Orders.” SentencingCouncil.vic.gov.au. https://www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au/about-sentencing/abolished-sentencing-orders (accessed February 25, 2019).