Applying for bail after conviction when there is a delay in passing sentence

The general right to bail

Sometimes, in legal cases the court will decide to adjourn the case before passing sentence. This may be because they wish for more time to consider the sentence or sometimes because new evidence has come to light throughout the duration of the court case. 

Section 4 of the Bail Act 1976 states that bail should be granted to:

“A person who, having been convicted of an offence, and whose case has been adjourned for reports to be obtained before sentence.”  This means that if a defendant has been essentially convicted but for some reason there is a delay in passing sentence, they do have the right to apply for bail.

The exception to this is that if the accused is charged with an offence punishable with imprisonment, bail need not be granted in the following circumstances:

If the court is satisfied that there are substantial grounds for believing that if the defendant was to be released on bail, they would:

  • Fail to surrender to custody

  • Commit another offence whilst on bail

  • Interfere or intimidate witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice.

This shows that the right to apply for bail after conviction does not necessarily depend on the severity of the offence committed.

What is considered when applying for bail after conviction when there is a delay in passing sentence?

When the defendant applies for bail after their conviction due to a delay in passing sentence, the court must consider the following: 

  • The seriousness and nature of the offence

  • The defendant’s record i.e. if they have had previous grants of bail, did they fulfil their obligations?

  • The strength of any evidence of the defendant having committed an offence.

Bail in the Magistrates’ Court

A defendant may apply for bail at the magistrates’ court when:

  • They are brought before a magistrates’ court and the hearing is adjourned.

  • They have been convicted summarily and the magistrates adjourn the proceedings in order to consider sentence.

The defendant can make two applications for bail before the magistrates, after these a new application does not need to be heard unless the defendant has a new argument to put forward.

Appeal to the Crown Court 

The right to make an application to the Crown Court against a magistrates’ courts refusal of bail is limited. A person remanded in custody by magistrates after summary conviction and before sentence can apply to the Crown Court for bail. 

The Crown Court can only grant bail in these types of application if the magistrates’ court confirms that it had heard the full argument on the defendant’s bail application before rejecting it. 

If at any time, a person who has been granted and released on bail fails without reasonable cause to surrender to custody – they are guilty of an offence.