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Conditional Bail Decision Making in the Magistrates' Court

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Conditional bail is a popular alternative to a remand in custody when magistrates believe a defendant poses a risk if released unconditionally. In the present study, magistrates made bail decisions on systematically designed hypothetical cases. It was found that on average, magistrates attached more than one condition to bail, and they were limited in the types of conditions they imposed. Although there was no difference in the consistency of magistrates' conditional and unconditional bail decisions, magistrates were more likely to disagree on a case when deciding to grant conditional bail, and they were less confident in their conditional bail decisions. In addition, magistrates' imposition of conditions was affected by both legal and extra-legal factors. Implications for enhancing magistrates' performance are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Research Fellow, City University, London, UK and Assistant Professor, University of Victoria, BC, Canada

Publication date: 2004-02-01

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