The British justice system is a complex arena in which jargon features heavily and the influence of tradition remains key to almost everything that occurs.
Littered full of baffling legal jargon, from prima facie to ombudsman, chattels to actus reus, the courts can be a confusing place.
There are three separate legal systems in the UK; one for both England and Wales, another for Scotland and one for Northern Ireland.
These reflect historical origins that date back hundreds of years, grown organically through legally precedent and convention, unique to each nation.
Both Scotland, Ireland and later Northern Ireland retain their own legal systems and traditions under the Acts of Union 1707 and 1800.
Despite these differences, the UK justice system is one of the three common branches of state. The other two are the executive, or the government, and the legislature, which is the two Houses of Parliament.
Britain does not have a written constitution, instead relies upon various statutes passed through Parliament and in common law, evolving over centuries.
What does released on bail mean?
You can be released on bail at a police station after you have been charged with a crime.
This allows those on bail to return home, but only until their court hearing.
According to Official UK Government Guidanceif you are given bail, you might have to agree to conditions like:
- Living at a particular address
- Not contacting certain people
- Giving your passport to the police so you cannot leave the UK
- Reporting to a police station at agreed times
If you do not adhere to these conditions, those out on bail may be rearrested and taken to prison while they wait on their court hearing.
Unlike in the United States where money bonds play a huge role in being released on bail as a form of deposit, in the UK it does not.
‘Securities and sureties’ can be taken as conditions to be released, but these are not excessive. More common conditions are curfews, electric tag monitoring and limits on meeting specific people or going to certain locations.
In England and Wales there are three types of bail an individual can be given:
- Police bail – The suspect is released without being charged, but has to return to the police station at a specific time and date
- Police to court – After being charged, the suspect is given bail but must attend the their first court hearing
- Court bail – After a court hearing, the suspect is granted bail pending further investigation
The Bail Act in 1976 removed the need to pay money to be released on bail and instead put the onus on the prosecution to demonstrate why bail should be refused.
You are unlikely to be granted bail if:
- You are charged with a serious offense, for example armed robbery
- You have been convicted of a serious crime in the past
- You have been given bail in the past and not stuck to the terms
- The police think you may not turn up for your hearing
- The police think you might commit a crime while you are on bail