Liberation from Police custody on an undertaking
You, a friend or a family member may have been charged with a criminal offence in Scotland and then released from a police station with certain paperwork – this is called a “bail undertaking form”. Undertakings are now very common in criminal cases. If you are released on a bail undertaking then you will have signed this paperwork in the police station before being released giving an UNDERTAKING that you will turn up at court on the assigned future date. Being out on bail means you need to stick to bail conditions agreed with the Police.
Released on an Undertaking FAQ
What is bail?
Bail is when a person accused of a crime is released from custody by the court. In Scotland bail is available for all crimes and offences.
Breach of bail when out on bail
A liberation on undertaking involves a person being subject to bail conditions. This requires a defendant to have good behaviour and ensure they attend court. There may be additional “special conditions of bail” when released on an undertaking. For example, you may not be allowed to meet with the victim of the crime or return to a certain property, as is the case in many domestic cases. This is done to ensure witnesses are protected from the possibility of further violence or an escalation of the existing situation.
What are undertakings?
If you are charged by Police Scotland with a criminal offence then they have the power to hold you in Police Custody in a cell at the Police Station until court the following day. (If you are held on a Friday this means you will hold until Monday at the earliest). Colloquially known as a “weekender”.
Very often, however, the Police will not hold you in custody but may elect to release you on what is known as an “undertaking”. Also known as “liberation from Police Custody on an undertaking”. Essentially what this means for you is that you give an undertaking to appear at court at a later date. It is a legal document which you sign and breaking the undertaking (ie failing to attend court on the specified date is a criminal offence in of itself).
In addition, the Police in Scotland can insist on “special condition of bail” in the interim period which you must adhere to under penalty of law.
Examples of Special Conditions of bail
- Stay away from specific places
- Do not communicate with certain individuals (directly or indirectly)
What being “Released on an Undertaking” actually means for you
You will already have spent some time in police custody and been charged with a criminal offence of some kind. Instead, they released you on a bail undertaking. Please be aware that this is a very serious issue and you will have already been notified of the date for your court hearing.
Your release on an undertaking is noted on the form given to you by the police, which you will already have signed to confirm you will be attending court. The charge(s) you are facing are also noted on this form.
It’s absolutely vital you go to court on the due date, as a warrant for your arrest will be issued if you don’t show up. Your case will normally be heard in the Sheriff Courts, although sometimes cases are heard in Justice of the Peace courts.
An undertaking is a promise and a legal obligation
Your bail undertaking is your guarantee to the police that you will behave in a lawful manner while you are on bail and that you will attend court on the due date. You will also need to follow any special conditions which have been agreed, if applicable.
Alternative to being released on an undertaking
- Held in a Police station cell overnight and appear in court the next working day.
- Bank Holiday’s are not working days, you will be held in a cell until Tuesday.
- Released for “report” – This means you will be released with no court date but the case will be referred to the prosecution lawyers (Procurator Fiscal’s Office) and they will decide if there is sufficient evidence against you and you may then go on to receive a citation/summons weeks or perhaps months later.
Released on an undertaking lawyer
After your release from police custody, you should seek professional legal advice at the very earliest opportunity.
Your criminal solicitor will help you and be able to represent you in court on the date of your undertakings. This court hearing is called a bail undertaking or simply undertaking.
Instructing a criminal lawyer at the earliest opportunity allows more time for negotiations to take place with the Procurator Fiscal, as it’s possible your charge(s) can be negotiated. In some circumstances, the Procurator Fiscal may even decide not to pursue any further action.
Bail conditions may be set on this release and it is important you do not break them. Contact us immediately if you have been released on an undertaking. We will help to explain what the next steps are to ensure bail conditions are met. You may be entitled to free legal aid which can help you get the representation from our specialist lawyers that you deserve.
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