Platform for Labour Action (PLA)

Ensuring democracy and social justice in the world of work.

Bail is where an accused person is released from prison before their trial but that person is required to come to court on the days when their case will be heard.

Every accused person is entitled to apply to the court for bail while waiting for trial. The decision is up to the court to give or not to give bail to an accused person.

  • The accused must have a permanent home.
  • The accused should have substantial surety(ies).
  • The accused person should be in a position to report to court without escaping from Uganda or going into hiding.
  • The accused person must promise not to interfere with investigations being carried out by police.
  • The accused person must not threaten or conflict with the complainant or any of the witnesses once bail has been granted.
  • The court will also consider the criminal record of the accused person. People, who commit offences all the time, may be denied bail.
  • The court will also consider how serious the crime is.
  • The court will also consider how harsh the punishment for the crime is once the person is convicted.

A surety is a person who appears in court and promises that the accused will come to court for his or her trial if released on bail. He or she accepts the responsibility to pay a fixed sum of money to the government if the accused does not appear in court when needed.

  • A responsible person in society.
  • One without a criminal record.
  • One with a home and has been staying in that place for more than 6 months. The home should be able to be traced.
  • Aged 21 years and above.
  • One of sound mind (no mental problem)
  • One who is able to supervise and make the accused person appear in court for trial.
  • One who is respectable and of good behaviour.
  • It is important to be well dressed.

  • A letter of introduction to the court from the LC 1 chairperson of their home area signed and stamped.
  • A valid identification card which may be a driving permit, passport, voter’s card, national id.
  • Sometimes the court may require that a certain amount of money be deposited in court.

  • The major duty of a surety is to ensure that the accused person appears in court whenever required.
  • A surety also has a duty to inform the court when the accused is planning to leave the country or run away from the court or go into hiding if they learn about it.

  • A person stops being a surety when the court allows a person to stop performing the duties of a surety.
  • One can stop being a surety if he applies to the court to be allowed to stop standing surety for the accused or the suspect.
  • If the accused has been convicted or acquitted.

  • The surety for a person released on bail may at any time request court to stop being the accused surety.
  • The request is made by word before the court.
  • The surety produces the released person in court and requests to stop bring their surety.

  • The surety is required to bring the accused to court immediately.
  • If they fail to bring the accused to court, they will be required to pay to court money which was stated on the bail form. If they will be arrested and imprisoned.
  • In case there is a good reason for the failure of accused to appear in court, the surety has to inform court why the accused has failed to appear in court.

  • For simple offences e.g. threatening violence, obtaining money by false pretence, malicious damage to property etc, this is done in the magistrate’s courts where the accused is being tried.
  • For serious offences e.g. murder, rape, defilement, aggravated robbery, the accused applies for bail in the high court.

  • For simple offences, the accused person can ask for bail by word of mouth from the trial magistrate and the request will be accepted or rejected there and then. you do not necessarily need a lawyer.
  • For serious offences, by making a written bail application to the high court. It is better than this application be made by a lawyer.
  • It is the court which decides on when to hear the bail application.

  • Cash bail- this is a sum of money asked by the court as security to ensure the accused appears in court. This is paid immediately (there and then).
  • Non-cash bail- this is the sum of money asked by the court to be paid by a surety when the accused fails to appear in court. It does not have to be paid there and then.

The decision is up to the magistrate/ judge to give cash or non-cash bail basing on the circumstances surrounding the case.

However, this may depend on:

  • The seriousness of the offence. For example, violent crimes may attract a lot of money in cash bail costs.
  • Public interest.
  • Simple offences are usually granted with non-cash bail.
  • The estimated worth of the case, for example, a case of theft, the bigger the amount stolen, the more money is required for cash bail.

  • Bail money will not be returned if the accused jumped bail/does not appear in court on the stated date and time.
  • Bail money will also not also be returned when the accused runs away from the country or goes into hiding.

  • After the conclusion of the case, do the following;
  • Write a letter to the magistrate who heard the case asking for the bail money
  • Attach a bail form on which you had been reporting to the court
  • Attach a receipt which was given to you by court
  • Attach a copy of the accused’s id
  • Wait for a response from the magistrate

No fee is paid for a refund of bail.

Recent publications