Like I always say, bail applications are one of the most stressful aspects of the criminal justice process in Western Australia. Any criminal defence lawyer in Perth will tell you they are stressful not only for an accused person, but also for their family and friends. In light of that, it is fundamental that any bail application be treated with the utmost seriousness. This brings me to my pet hate when representing people at a bail hearing.
I am often engaged to represent people at a contested bail hearing. On the eve of the application, the momentum is racing and I am ready to argue for this person’s liberty. I have requested that certain documents and material in support of the application be provided. Leading up to the application I assume that the materials are coming as a matter of course. But then I find that the documents or material haven’t been obtained yet or aren’t ready or some other problem is preventing access to the documents. Why is this so frustrating? Because in any difficult bail application, success is often mounted on the strength of the documents or material in support of the application.
The Bail Act 1982 is the principal source of law in criminal cases in Western Australia. It imposes upon us, your criminal lawyer, certain requirements in terms of proof.
For example, if the issue in support of an applicant’s bail is the health of the applicant and the fact that they need to be treated outside of a custodial environment, then of course that can be expressed in an affidavit or in oral submissions by the person appearing on the applicant’s behalf. If the application is not a hard one, then that may be sufficient. However, The best criminal lawyers in Perth will tell you that if the matter is, put colloquially, “right on the line”, then proper documentation in support of that health problem will be of fundamental importance.
If you, a family member or a friend have ever been charged with a criminal offence, then it is important that you take the time to think about what the issues on bail are and organise all documents before engaging a criminal defence lawyer to make a bail application. If documents are provided early, then the bail application can be argued all the more sooner by your criminal lawyer. Strong documentation also places the criminal lawyer or barrister in a better position to negotiate with the prosecution and arrange their consent to a bail application.
What kind of documents should I consider organising before meeting with a criminal lawyer or barrister to argue bail:
- Letters of support from family;
- Letters from employers or prospective employers either setting out the nature of the applicant’s employment, their importance to the organisation etc.;
- Any documents in support of a specific issue. For example:
- Health documents;
- Document relating to dependents (wife, children etc.)
- Documents that may assist in demonstrating a weak prosecution case in relation to the charges that are laid against the applicant.
Like with any successful legal application, the fundamental ingredient for success is “preparation, preparation, preparation”. Accordingly, preparation should not begin in the office of a criminal law firm but in the home. Because bail in Western Australia is such an important matter, remember to ensure that you can bring as much material as practically possible to your criminal lawyer so that they can properly mount a strong application for bail.
Frank Merenda is one of our preferred independent barristers at Francis Burt Chambers. Frank has experience as criminal defence lawyer across a broad range of criminal charges in WA including drug charges, assault charges, fraud charges, stealing, grievous bodily harm, sexual assault as well as murder. If you are looking for one of the best criminal lawyers in Perth, ask us about briefing Frank Merenda as barrister for your case.