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If you are arrested and charged with an offence, you will be brought before a District Court as soon as possible. You may make an application in court to be released from custody on bail.

Bail is when you are released from custody because of a bond or promise made either by you, or by you and another person (a surety), to guarantee that you will appear for your trial/remand hearing. Bail is based on the principle that the accused is presumed innocent until proved guilty.

If you enter into a bail bond, you are committing yourself to appear in court to answer the charges made against you. If you are granted bail, the court may set conditions including the payment into court by you (or your surety) of a sum of money. An amount of at least one third of that money must be paid into court before you can be released on bail. This money will be returned to you if you appear in court as promised.

The court may accept as security a bank, building society, credit union or post office deposit book instead of a payment of money into court. If the court accepts such security, it will order that the monies on deposit not be reduced below the amount to be paid into court if you fail to appear or the amount on deposit whichever is the lower amount.

If you are sent for trial in the Special Criminal Court you cannot get bail unless the Director of Public Prosecutions directs otherwise.


The court may not be satisfied with your promise that you will appear in court to answer the charges made against you. The court may decide that an 'independent surety' is required to guarantee your appearance. An independent surety is a person who makes him or herself responsible for your appearance in court. He or she promises to pay a sum of money to the court if you do not appear as agreed.

If a surety is set in your case you must attend the office for the court dealing with your case with the person who has agreed to act as surety. The surety must bring photographic identification and provide an up-to-date statement from a financial institution showing that there are enough funds in their account to cover the amount specified in the bail bond. The account should not be a joint account.

Types of bail:

Station bail

When a Garda brings you into custody to a Garda station, the station may release you on bail either with or without sureties. The amount of money specified in the bail bond is set by the Garda in charge of the station. You must enter into a bond to appear before the District Court on a specific date.

District Court bail

When you are brought before the District Court, the judge may either remand you in custody or release you conditionally when you enter into a bail bond with or without surety. The amount of money (if any) specified in the bail bond is set by the judge.

The Director of Public Prosecutions can appeal the decision to grant you bail or the conditions of your bail to the High court. If the District Court refuses bail, you will be remanded in custody. You can appeal the decision to the High Court.

Appeal bail

Appeal bail is set by a District Court judge where a defendant has lodged an application to appeal to the Circuit Court. Once the defendant signs the bail bond they are released from custody until thehearing of the appeal in the Circuit Court.

If appeal bail is entered within 14 days of the original District Court hearing a stay is put on the District Court order until the completion of the appeal case. An exception to this is a maintenance order which remains in place until the outcome of the Circuit Court appeal.

(Sent forward for) trial bail

If a case is sent forward for trial to the Circuit Criminal Court, or the Central Criminal Court, the District Court judge may set new bail. Once the defendant signs the bail bond they are released from custody until the first hearing date (in the Circuit/Central). Any cash lodgment will be held until the completion of the case.

High Court bail

If you are charged with treason, war crimes, murder, attempt to murder, conspiracy to murder, piracy or genocide, the District Court does not have the power to grant you bail. Certain offences under the Offences Against the State Act, 1939 and the Official Secrets Act, 1963 also rule out the granting of bail in the District Court. In those cases, you or your legal representative must apply to the High Court for bail.

If you are refused bail in the District Court (the grounds for which are set out in section 2 Bail Act, 1997), you can appeal to the High Court. Likewise, if you want to reduce the amount of bail set by the District Court or contest a condition of the bail, you can appeal to the High Court.

Practice direction HC63 and order 84 set out the requirements for a High Court bail application.

Practice Direction HC61 requires any applicant in custody to include the numbers of the charge sheets in respect of which bail is sought. The information must be set out in the form appended to the practice direction.

Any supplemental charges sought to be put before the court subsequent to filing of the notice of motion must be set out on a supplemental form.

Bail granted in the High Court requires the applicant/surety entering into a bond. This bond is entered in the District Court/or before the prison governor of the relevant place of detention. If there is a surety requirement, the surety must be approved before the District Court on notice to the prosecuting garda. Any cash lodgement will be held until the completion of the case.

The following information must be included in the grounding affidavit for any appeal of bail set by the District Court or Circuit Court.

The affidavit of the applicant shall set forth fully the basis upon which the application is made to the High Court and in particular:

(a) shall give particulars of whether and, if so, in what other court bail has been refused to the applicant;

(b) shall specify where the applicant is being detained;

(c) shall specify the usual place of abode or address where the applicant normally resides;

(d) shall specify the address at which it is proposed the applicant would reside, if granted bail;

(e) shall provide full particulars of the offence or offences with which the applicant is charged;

(f) shall include the identity, address and occupation of any proposed independent surety and of the amount that such surety may offer;

(g) the terms of bail which were previously fixed in relation to the offences (if any);

(h) whether there had been any previous High Court applications for bail in respect of the offences;

(i)whether any warrants for failure to appear have been issued in relation to the applicant;

(j) what surety and/or other conditions relating to bail (if any) the applicant is proposing;

(k) the personal circumstances of the applicant and in particular whether the applicant was legally aided in relation to the charges in any other court;

(l) any other relevant circumstances.

Setting bail:

Own bail with no cash lodgment

In this case you must sign the bail bond before you can be released from custody.

Own bail with cash lodgment/security

In this case you must sign the bail bond and lodge the requested sum of money/security before you can be released.

Own bail and one or more independent surety

In this case, once the surety has been approved by the court, you and the surety must sign the bail bond and lodge any sum of money/ security requested before you can be released.

Own bail and cash lodgment in lieu of an independent surety

In this case you must sign the bail bond and may choose to make a cash lodgment rather than have an independent surety approved by the court.

Refund of bail:

You are entitled to a refund of your bail when there has been a final order made by the court on every case attached to the bail and you have attended all the court hearings and fulfilled all other bail conditions.

Similarly a surety is entitled to a refund of bail where final orders have been made by the court and the defendant has attended all the court hearings and fulfilled all other bail conditions.

Any monies paid into court for bail or by a surety will be automatically paid back to the person who is owed the money. The court office responsible for the case will instruct the Courts Accounts Office, subject to the conditions on the bail bond being met, to refund the bail/surety. Payment is by cheque which is posted directly to you, or the surety named on the bond, to the address provided on the bond. Changes of address should be mentioned in court or details of the new address provided to the court office. Cheques are not issued at the office counter.

If you have any difficulties in relation to bail refunds, you should contact the court office that dealt with your case.

Breach of bail conditions:

If you fail to comply with any of the bail conditions, the judge will issue a bench warrant. The warrant gives An Garda Síochána power to arrest you and bring you before the court to answer all charges relating to the bail. A breach of bail may also result in an additional charge against you.

The judge may also make an order against you and/or your surety for ‘forfeiture and estreatment’ of the bail money. This means that any money already paid as bail will be kept by the State (forfeit). Any money promised to be paid becomes a sum due to the State as a debt (estreatment).

Both you and/or your surety can apply to the District Court to vary or discharge the estreatment order. You and/or your surety can appeal the decision of the District Court to the Circuit Court.

If you and/or your surety fail to pay the amount estreated a warrant of committal will be issued to An Garda Síochána. This gives them the power to lodge you or your surety in prison for a time specified by the court.

Relevant legislation:

Offences Against The State Act, 1939
Official Secrets Act, 1963
Criminal Procedure Act, 1967
Criminal Justice Act, 1984
Bail Act, 1997
Criminal Justice Act, 2006
Criminal Justice Act, 2007
Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009
S.I. No. 811 of 2004 Rules of the Superior Courts (Bail Applications) 2004

High Court Practice Directions

HC13 Bail applications
HC24 Bail list
HC61 Bail notice of motion
HC63 Bail applications at Cloverhill Courthouse
HC64 Section 2A Bail Act 1997


Form 18.1 District Court Rules: Bail recognisance
Form 18.2 District Court Rules: Bail recognisance (on execution of warrant endorsed for bail)
Form 18.2A District Court Rules: Bail recognisance
Form 18.2B District Court Rules: Bail recognisance
Form 18.3 District Court Rules: Bail recognisance (on sending forward)
Form 18.4 District Court Rules: Bail recognisance (on appeal)
Form 27.7 District Court Rules: Notice of application for warrant of execution (to enforce by committal an order to estreat)
Form 27.10 District Court Rules: Application to vary/discharge order in respect of bail recognisance


This page updated: 29 November 2016