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Arrest & Bail

ArrestbailBeing arrested is undoubtedly a very scary, humiliating and confusing ordeal, especially if you are not familiar with your legal rights.

The important thing to remember when being arrested is that you should remain calm and under no circumstances should you consider paying a bribe. This in itself is a serious offence that carries a very harsh penalty.

You have the right to be informed of the reason for your arrest. You also have the right to remain silent. Do not make a statement. Quite often something that you say very innocently to explain your side of the story can be taken out of context or misunderstood and used against you at a later stage.

Contact your attorney immediately, or ask a family member to contact an attorney on your behalf as soon as possible. Your attorney will ensure that you are properly advised of your legal rights and protected throughout the entire legal process.

The Bill of Rights enshrined in our Constitution states that any person that has been arrested for allegedly committing an offence, has the right to be released from detention if it is in the interest of justice, subject to reasonable conditions.

In most instances, you are entitled to be released on bail for relatively minor offences prior to appearing in court. This is known as police bail. This is also subject to you not having any previous convictions or pending cases. A monetary bail amount is paid at the police station and you will then be warned to appear in court on a certain date.

In certain circumstances you may be released, without having to pay a monetary amount, after receiving written notice to appear at court on a specific date and time. This is commonly referred to as being released on warning.

The bail amount paid is a method to ensure your attendance at court for the duration of the matter and must not be seen as form of punishment. Every accused person has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The purpose of bail is to strike a balance between the interests of society and the liberty of an accused. The bail amount will be reimbursed once the matter is finalised, irrespective of the outcome of your case.

If you are arrested for a slightly more serious offence, you are in certain circumstances also entitled to be released on bail at a police station, with the permission of a prosecutor. The prosecutor will attend the police station and after acquainting themself with the facts of your particular matter, decide on whether or not to grant you bail.  

For serious offences, or if you have a previous conviction or a pending case, you will be detained in police custody until you appear in court. At your hearing, the court will decide whether you are a suitable candidate to be released on bail and may impose certain conditions attached to your release such as reporting periodically to your nearest police station, not contacting witnesses or handing over your travel documentation to the investigating officer.

When a court considers your release on bail, it will consider factors such as the gravity of the alleged crime you are charged with, whether you have a fixed residential address, the likelihood that you will evade your trial, your propensity to commit further crimes whilst out on bail and other such factors. The court will also consider your personal circumstances and financial position in determining the actual amount of bail payable, should you qualify to be released on bail. 

It is important that you attend each and every court date whilst you are out on bail and adhere to and observe all your bail conditions. Failure to do so may cause you to be re-arrested and your bail to be revoked. You will also stand to lose any bail amount you may have paid.

Finally, remember that a good criminal defense attorney will have a marked impact on the outcome of your case. Make sure that you choose somebody who comes with a good recommendation and satisfy yourself as to their experience. Also ensure that you inform your attorney of all things relevant to your case, so that they are in a position to properly assess the merits of your matter and best represent you.


This newsflash has been prepared for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, or a legal opinion, the practical application of the provisions of this newsflash will vary depending on the facts of each case.

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