Category: Undertakings & Bail

Undertakings

Legal Aid for bail undertaking in Scotland FAQ

Legal Aid in Scotland

If you have been released by the police on undertaking, it is vital you attend court on the due date. Your bail undertaking indicates the date of your court appearance and it’s imperative you seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. You will need to decide whether you will plead guilty or not guilty at your Bail Undertaking Hearing and your solicitor will be able to offer the best guidance.

Berlow Rahman provide a 24-hour advice line and you can speak direct with a member of our legal team to discuss your bail undertaking and ask for a solicitor to represent you at your hearing.

Legal Aid is often available for clients attending Bail Undertaking Hearings and some of the questions we’re most frequently asked are highlighted below:

 

Q What if I plead guilty to the charge?

As already noted above, legal aid is different if you plead guilty. Your solicitor will be able to advise you further.

Q What if the case goes to trial?

All circumstances are different, so if your case goes on to a full trial your solicitor will advise you further and any entitlement to legal aid will be based on your current financial situation.

Q What if my case is classed as a serious matter?

It is possible you could still qualify for legal aid if your case is classed as a solemn matter by the courts. Any available assets will also be considered within your legal aid application.

Q What are capital limits for legal aid?

In January 2019, the savings capital limit was pegged at £1,716. If you are facing a summary case which will be heard in a magistrates court, the savings capital is also £1,716. Capital limits for summary cases or solemn cases to be heard at the Sheriff Court or High Court have far higher capital limits and this makes it much easier to claim Legal Aid.

Q What if my case is too expensive for me?

If you cannot afford to pay to put some aspects of your case together, such as for medical or expert reports, then an application for Legal Aid can be put in place.

Q Where is the official Legal Aid online calculator?

This can be found at: https://www.slab.org.uk/public/advice/index.html

Q What benefits give me automatic entitlement to Legal Aid?

If you or your partner are claiming income support, income-related employment and support allowance or income-based jobseeker’s allowance, you will automatically qualify for Legal Aid in Scotland.

Released on Undertaking

What is an undertaking?

 

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 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 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.

Contact a Criminal Lawyer right away

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 undertaking. 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.

 

The expert lawyers at Berlow Rahman Solicitors have the skills to handle any kind of bail undertaking to achieve the best outcomes for clients. Get in touch with us at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss your charge(s) in detail and benefit from the best available advice.

 

Alternative to undertakings

 

  • 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.