What Is The Bail Process In Criminal Proceedings in Singapore?

What Is The Bail Process In Criminal Proceedings in Singapore?

What Is Bail?

An accused person is considered to be on bail after being released from custody of the law and into the hands of the accused person’s bailor(s).

Bail is the property pledged by the bailor to ensure the accused person’s attendance in court and if necessary, to produce the accused person for the purposes of investigations when required, until the conclusion of the criminal proceedings. The main purpose of bail is to secure the attendance of the accused person in court and investigations and to prevent him from absconding.

What Types Of Bail Are There?

Commonly, the types of bail offered are police/agency bail or Court bail. An accused person may be offered bail by the police/relevant law enforcement agencies after his arrest and before he is charged in Court. This is known as police bail or agency bail.

Subsequently, once the accused person is charged in court, police/agency bail will usually be revoked and a new type of bail will be offered by the Court and is this is known as Court bail.

Who Can Be A Bailor?

The person posting bail for the accused person is known as a bailor, or a surety. This person is someone who is willing to provide security (usually in the form of money, also known as the bail amount) so that the accused person may be released from custody while awaiting court proceedings.

In Singapore, a potential bailor has to meet the following criteria:

  • Is a Singapore citizen or permanent resident;
  • Be above the age of 21;
  • Is not a bankrupt;
  • Is not a co-accused in the same proceedings as the accused person; and
  • Is not facing criminal charges.

Once bail has been granted and the bailor’s application is approved by the court, the accused person may be released. If no bailor posts bail for the accused person, the accused person will have to remain in custody or remand.

Do note that it is not a requirement to have a family member be a bailor of an accused person. It is possible to get a trusted friend or colleague to be your bailor (provided they are willing to do so).

While an accused person will not generally be allowed to be his own bailor, it is possible for an accused person to execute a personal bond, particularly when there are no others willing to act as bailors for the accused person.

In certain situations, usually when the bail amount posted is high, it may be necessary to have more than one bailor (usually limited to two) for an accused person.

How Is The Amount For Bail Determined?

The Court decides on the amount that will be set for bail for an accused person. In general, the prosecution indicates an amount and the Court can choose to follow this indication unless there are objections from the accused person or his counsel.

If there is a dispute, the factors that will usually be considered in determining a reasonable bail amount will be based on the following non-exhaustive factors:-

  • Type of offence;
  • Nature and severity of the offence (including likely sentence upon conviction and any mandatory sentences);
  • Number of charges;
  • List of antecedents;
  • General character of the accused person;
  • Accused person’s personal factors (including individual circumstances and means of raising bail);
  • Likelihood of the accused person being a flight risk.

Can Bail Decisions Be Appealed Against?

Bail decisions cannot be appealed against. However, there are applications known as criminal motions where an accused person can apply to alter the bail amount/bail restrictions. Generally, for an application to be considered, there would need to be a material change in circumstances or new evidence that can affect the decision on bail

What Are The Usual Conditions Of Bail In Singapore?

The bail amount pledged by the bailor will be returned to the bailor once the case has concluded, provided that the accused person abides by the terms of bail. The bailor therefore has the responsibility to ensure that the accused person attends the court proceedings and complies with all the bail conditions.

The conditions of bail or personal bond in Singapore can be found in Section 94 of the Criminal Procedure Code and are reproduced below:-

  • The accused must surrender their passport.
  • The accused must not commit any offence while released on bail.
  • The accused must not interfere with any witness or obstruct the course of justice.
  • The accused must surrender to custody, be available for investigations or attend court hearings whenever required.
  • The bailor must not be a co-accused in the same case.
  • any person offered as surety for an accused in a criminal matter must not be a co-accused in the same matter.

Additional bail conditions may be imposed by the court. Some other conditions that are commonly imposed would include:-

  • Requiring the accused not to contact the victim; and
  • Electronic tagging of the accused.

What Are The Duties And Obligations Of The Bailor?

The bailor’s main responsibility is to ensure that the accused person attends Court hearings and necessary investigations until the close of criminal proceedings. He also has to keep daily contact with the accused person and to lodge a police report within 24 hours if he loses contact with the accused person.

A bailor is liable to forfeit the full amount of bail if the accused person fails to attend before the Court when needed or if he fails to comply with any of the conditions of bail. In the event the accused person does not attend and does not have any reasonable excuse, the bailor will have to explain and provide the reasons why he should not be made to forfeit the full amount of bail.

What Happens If The Accused Person Does Not Attend Court?

Apart from the bailor being potentially liable for the full amount of bail, the Court may also issue a warrant of arrest against the accused person.

Section 103 of the Criminal Procedure Code also states that it is an offence to abscond from bail or to break the conditions of bail, and the accused person may be found guilty of an offence if he does not have a reasonable excuse for doing so.

What Can The Bailor Pledge As Security For The Bail Amount?

Generally, for bail amounts less than $15,000, cash is not required and the bailor can pledge personal property such as jewellery, household items or anything of value that has been fully paid. The bailor isn’t required to produce these personal items or show any proof of ownership to the Court but will need to sign a declaration stating their ownership of the items and that their total value is enough to cover the bail sum.

For bail amounts more than $15,000, the bailor must provide cash or cash equivalents (savings accounts, fixed deposits, cashier’s orders, etc). These assets will be frozen to prevent the bailor from withdrawing or exhausting them.

What Happens To The Bail Money After Conclusion Of Criminal Proceedings?

The bailor will get a refund in three weeks after the conclusion of criminal proceedings, or a successful application of the bailor to discharge himself from being the bailor of the accused person.

Generally, if the bailor pledged cash, cash or a cashier's order as security, the total bail amount will be credited back into the bank account provided by the bailor.

If the bailor pledged a savings account or a fixed deposit as security, the court will inform the appropriate bank to unfreeze the account.


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Filed under: Criminal Defence
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