Government tightens bail laws
The changes to the State’s bail laws follow community concerns, as well as recommendations from an independent review by former NSW Attorney General John Hatzistergos.
Key changes include:
- Under a revised test, an accused considered an “unacceptable risk” will be refused bail;
- For serious offences, the onus will be on the accused to “show cause” that their detention in custody unjustified;
- In addition to meeting the “show cause requirement”, serious offenders will still be refused bail if found to be an unacceptable risk;
- New risk factors will assessed including, links the accused may have to organised crime, their history of compliance to bail conditions, and victims’ views on their safety;
- The common law presumption of innocence will be acknowledged in a Preamble to the Act, rather than as a “purpose” of the Act.
- It will be made clear in legislation that this new Bail Act by itself is not a “change of circumstances” sufficient to trigger a review of a previous bail decision.
The amended Act will define “serious offences” by a range of features of the alleged offence, including:
- the sexual assault of a child;
- use of a firearm;
- manufacture or supply of commercial quantities of a prohibited drug;
- serious personal violence;
- the alleged offence was committed while the accused was on bail or parole; or
- the alleged offence carries a potential life sentence.
The changes are modelled on Victorian and Queensland Acts, both of which have risk assessment models.