An accused person who is granted bail is under a duty to appear at court in accordance with the bail and to surrender themselves into custody when so required (s 6 Bail Act).
A person released on bail who fails without reasonable cause to appear in accordance with the undertaking of bail and surrender themselves into custody is guilty of an offence. This carries a penalty of two years imprisonment. The accused has a defence to such a charge if it can be proven that there are reasonable grounds for failure to appear (s 30).
It is an offence to contravene a bail condition in relation to the conduct of the accused without a reasonable excuse (see s 30A(1); see also the definition of “conduct condition” in ss 3, 5(2A)(k)). The offence does not apply to a condition requiring the accused to attend and participate in a service provided to assist them to comply with their undertaking. It is also an offence for a person to commit an indictable offence while on bail (s 30B). Both these offences carry a maximum penalty of three months’ imprisonment or 30 penalty units (pu). As of 1 July 2017, the value of one penalty unit is $158.57. (For more information about penalty units, see “A note about penalty units”.)
Police officers can issue infringement notices for the offence of breaching a bail condition (s 32A). The infringement notices are used for minor contraventions, for example, breaching a reporting condition by being late.
Bail can be extended in the absence of the accused person where a case is adjourned, if the court is satisfied that the reason for non-attendance is illness, accident or other good cause (s 16(3)). In these circumstances, written notice must be given by the court to the accused person and their surety (if any) of the new date for attendance (s 16A).
Where a deposit of money or other security is made as a condition of bail, and the person released fails to appear in accordance with the undertaking, the deposit is forfeited to the Crown. However, in certain cases a deposit may be recovered by the person bailed, or by their surety (s 32 Bail Act; s 6 Crown Proceedings Act 1958 (Vic)).
Any police officer (or a protective services officer on duty at a railway premises or in the surrounding area) may arrest without warrant any person who has been released on bail if it is believed on reasonable grounds that the person is likely to break a bail condition, or is breaking or has broken any bail condition (s 24 Bail Act; definition of “designated place” in s 3(1) Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic); reg 27 Victoria Police Regulations 2014). The court may also issue warrants for the arrest of a person bailed where the person has failed to answer bail or for the purpose of imposing additional conditions or security (ss 25, 26).