Choong & Low v DPP: Bail amount must fairly reflect all the circumstances of the applicant and the offence

footage-6In this case (here), the Court held that Butler J, in the High Court, erred in law in stating that, as he could not fix bail in a misuse of drugs case as a percentage of the value of the product seized, any figure that he did pick would be arbitrary. The Court reaffirmed the long standing rule that in setting bail the trial judge must consider all the circumstances relevant to the applicant and the offence for which he is charged.

Background

Choong and Low appealed a decision of the District Court not to grant them bail on a misuse of drugs charge. Butler J heard the appeal in the High Court. In July 2013, the Supreme Court had overturned Butler J’s earlier decision in DPP v Bell to set bail in a misuse of drugs case as a percentage of the street value of the drugs seized. The Court held that that practice was arbitrary as it did not consider the circumstances of the applicant or the charge.

In Choong and Low, Butler J stated that, as he could not fix bail as a percentage of the value of the drugs seized any sum he set would be arbitrary, and he set bail as a personal bond of €100 for each of the defendants. The DPP appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

Denham CJ, with Hardiman and MacMenamin JJ concurring, held that that Butler J had erred in law in not considering all circumstances relating to the applicants and the offences. The amount set should be just and reasonable: it should balance the interest of the State that the accused appear for trial but should not be so high as to render it impossible for the acused–who must be presumed to be innocent–to secure his liberty. The Court upheld the DPP’s appeal and sent the case back to the High Court for determination.

Advertisements
Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. 2014 Review: May | scoirl

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: