Facing allegations of sexual offences, such rape, sexual assault or child sexual offences, is an immensely challenging and distressing experience for anyone. It is crucial to understand that individuals accused in such cases have rights that must be protected. At Daniel Kreith & Company Solicitors, we are dedicated to supporting those accused of sexual offences, providing valuable information and legal assistance tailored to their specific situation.
Bail in Sexual Offences Cases
When a person is charged with a sexual offence, they may be detained pending trial or released on bail. Bail is the temporary release of an accused person before their trial, with certain conditions in place to ensure their appearance in court. The principle of bail presumes innocence until proven guilty and acknowledges the right of the accused to liberty. Section 2 of the Bail Act 1997 in Ireland recognises this fundamental right while also taking into account public safety and the administration of justice. It states that bail should be granted unless specific grounds for refusal exist. (1)
Understanding Section 2 of the Bail Act 1997
Section 2 of the Bail Act 1997 outlines the factors that must be considered when determining bail. These factors include the nature and seriousness of the offence, the likelihood of the accused interfering with witnesses or evidence, and the potential risk to the safety of the public. The court also takes into account the accused’s character, ties to the community, previous criminal record, and their willingness to abide by any conditions set for their release.
In relation to sexual offences cases, Section 2 of the Bail Act plays a crucial role in determining whether an accused person should be granted bail. When deciding whether to grant or refuse bail in sexual offences cases in Ireland, courts consider various key factors. These factors help assess the risk associated with releasing the accused person on bail. Here are some factors that are typically taken into account:
- Nature and seriousness of the offence
The nature and seriousness of the sexual offence committed is important. More severe offences, such as rape or sexual assault, may weigh heavily against granting bail due to the potential risk to the victim.
- Likelihood of interference with witnesses or evidence:
Courts carefully assess the likelihood of the accused interfering with witnesses or tampering with evidence if released on bail. This factor is crucial to ensure the integrity of the judicial process and to protect the rights and well-being of witnesses involved in the case.
- Potential danger to the public:
The potential danger that the accused may pose to the public is another important consideration. Courts evaluate whether releasing the accused on bail could lead to a risk of harm to others, particularly if there is evidence suggesting a pattern of predatory behaviour or a high likelihood of reoffending.
- Accused’s previous convictions and history:
The accused’s previous convictions and history are taken into account when assessing bail applications. A history of similar offences, as it indicates a potential pattern of behaviour that could pose a risk to the public if the accused were to be released on bail.
The O’ Callaghan principles
The O’ Callaghan principles originated from the Irish Supreme Court case of People (Attorney General) -v- O’ Callaghan. This case involved an accused person charged with a number of serious criminal offences who had applied for bail pending trial. The Supreme Court outlined eleven fundamental principles that should guide courts when considering bail applications:
- The nature of the accusation or in other words the seriousness of the charge
- The nature of the evidence in support of the charge
- The likely sentence to be imposed on conviction
- The likelihood of the commission of further offences while on bail
- The possibility of the disposal of illegally acquired property
- The possibility of interference with prospective witnesses and jurors
- The prisoner’s failure to answer to bail on a previous occasion
- The fact that the prisoner was caught red-handed
- The objection of the Attorney General or of the police authorities
- The substance and reliability of the bailsmen offered
- The possibility of a speedy trial
The O’Callaghan principles, established by the Supreme Court of Ireland in 1966, offer guidance to the courts when considering bail applications.
Station bail, also known as Garda Station Bail, refers to the temporary release of an accused person from a Garda station pending further investigation or court proceedings. It is a process within the Irish legal system that allows the Gardai, to grant bail at the station level without involving the courts immediately. The purpose of station bail is to expedite the release of individuals who are arrested and held in custody while ensuring they comply with certain conditions. (2)
Being accused of a sexual offence is an extremely challenging situation, but it is crucial to remember that you have rights that must be protected. The Bail Act, Station Bail, and the O’Callaghan principles in Ireland aim to ensure an accused individuals liberty throughout the legal process, pending trial.
If you have been accused of a sexual offence, it is essential to understand your rights. It is advisable to seek the assistance of a Solicitor immediately. Our team at Daniel Kreith & Company Solicitors specialise in defending clients in sexual offences cases. We can provide expert advice, protect your rights throughout the legal process, and build a strong defence on your behalf.