How is bail set?
I have some questions about bail for those arrested on criminal charges. According to a news item in the Gazette last year, a local man who was arrested for seriously wounding another man with a knife in a nightclub brawl was released on bail of 60,000 baht. I myself was arrested for working as a dive master without being a registered TAT guide (the charge was later dropped). My bail was set at 100,000 baht. Finally, in a letter to the editor, a foreigner involved in a fatal road accident, which was by all accounts not his fault, was released only after paying bail of 1 million baht. My questions are: Who decides on the amount of bail? Are there guidelines? Who can you appeal to if you think the amount is unreasonably high?
Dive Master, Koh Kaew
“There are three levels of bail. When the person is first arrested, they will be questioned by the police. At this stage, the police will decide whether that person is eligible for bail. If the person is eligible, the police will set the amount. Next, when the case has been passed to the provincial attorney’s office, the provincial attorney will decide whether that person is eligible for bail, and the amount. The final level is when the accused appears in court. Usually, it is the responsibility of chief judge to decide how much bail is required. Whether the accused is bailed and, if so, the amount of bail depends on the circumstances. The responsible authority at each stage has to weigh up the likelihood of the accused skipping bail, how severe the punishment is, how reliable the bond is, and the size of the bond. If the accused is involved in an important case such as a crime involving drugs or the country’s security, he may not be bailed. Foreigners tend not to get bail because they have tendency to skip the country. The amount of bail depends entirely on the responsible person’s judgment, so it will vary from case to case. There is no such thing as an “unreasonable amount”.
Krisda Suebpong, Phuket Provincial Chief State Attorney
There are written guidelines for the minimum and maximum amount of bail for each charge. Normally, the police officer investigating the case will decide on the amount. However, if the charge is a serious one, the chief of the police station will generally set it. There is no right of appeal against the bail set by the police. If the case goes to the provincial attorney’s office, that office will set bail, usually at the same amount as was set by the police. If the case reaches the court, the judge will set the bail amount, which may be different. The prosecutor may recommend to the court whether to allow or deny bail. The amount of bail set by the court is open to appeal.
Sam Fauma, International Law Office