what is a bind over?

Bind Overs

"A BIND OVER CAN BE USED AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO HAVING A TRIAL ...THE PROSECUTION MAY AGREE TO OFFER NO EVIDENCE (WHICH WILL RESULT IN A NOT GUILTY VERDICT) IF THE DEFENDANT AGREES TO BE BOUND OVER."

The main type of ‘bind over’ is a bind over to keep the peace. It is an order which can be made by both the Magistrates’ Court and the Crown Court and means that a person must undertake not to engage in specific conduct or activities for a certain period of time (usually no more than 12 months), in breach of which he will be required to pay a specified sum of money. 

A bind over is not a conviction in itself and the making of a bind over is not dependent on a conviction for an offence. It can be used as an alternative to having a trial, usually if the prosecution are facing evidential or practical difficulties in pursuing a case at trial - in these circumstances the prosecution may agree to offer no evidence (i.e. to withdraw the case which will result in a Not Guilty verdict being entered) if the defendant agrees to be bound over. A bind over can also be used by the court following conviction (i.e. a defendant pleading guilty to or been found guilty of a criminal offence) as an alternative to sentence. Although rare, a witness who has appeared at court can be bound over to keep the peace.

when can a bind over be made?

A bind over to keep the peace can be made when a person has been convicted of an offence. It is also available to be used against people who have not been convicted of any offence. Where a bind over is given to a person who has not been convicted of an offence, either he must consent to it or the court must be sure that a breach of the peace involving violence or the imminent threat of violence has taken place, or that there is a real risk of violence in the future, either by the person to be bound over or by another person as a natural consequence of his behaviour.

Is a Bind Over a Conviction?

No. A bind over to keep the peace is an order used to prevent certain behaviour from occurring in the future. It is not a conviction in itself and can be ordered against a person who has not been convicted of any criminal offence (see above).

Breach of a bind over to keep the peace

A breach of the requirements under the order will mean the person is liable to pay all or part of the sum imposed (and the means of the person will be taken into account in deciding the amount of this sum).

bind over to come up for judgment

There is another type of bind over called a ‘bind over to come up for judgment’ - this is a Crown Court-only power which is used in lieu of sentence. It enables the court, when dealing with less serious offences, to require a defendant who has been convicted of an offence to abide by certain conditions, in breach of which he will be required to pay a specified sum of money and return to court for sentence.

Further Information on bind overs

You can find information on bind overs in Criminal Practice Direction VII Sentencing (paragraph J.1 onwards).    

See also a source of information often used by judges - the Crown Court Compendium – Part II Sentencing (at paragraph S6-3 onwards).    


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