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 means that a person must undertake not to engage in specific conduct or activities, in breach of which he will be required to pay a specified sum of money. 

For example, when imposing a bind over the court would say, “[Stephen Holmes] I am going to bind you over to [refrain from specified conduct/activities] in the sum of £200 for 6 months.” 

when can a bind over be made?

This is a power available to both the Crown Court and the Magistrates’ Court and a conviction (i.e. a plea of guilty or a finding of guilt by the court) is not required before it can be imposed.  

A bind over 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 (which will result in a Not Guilty verdict) if the defendant agrees to be bound over.  A bind over is not a sentence, although it is sometimes used as an alternative to a sentence.  Although rare, a witness who has given evidence can be bound over to keep the peace.

Bind overs are usually given to defendants and usually with consent.  If no consent is given, before imposing a bind over the court must be sure that a breach of the peace involving violence or the threat of violence has taken place, or that there is a real risk of violence in the future, and this was or will be carried out by the person to be bound over (or by another person as a clear consequence of his behaviour).

Breach of a bind over to keep the peace

A breach of 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).

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).