As is the case in most countries, in Thailand, bail is something of value that is given to the Court in order for a defendant to be released from prison while he or she waits for a court date. There are three (3) main types of bail that can be posted in order for the defendant to be released, and it is important to consult a lawyer in order to find out which one of these is best for your particular case. Remember that not every type of bail is acceptable to every court.
The Thai legal system can be complicated, and while there is a straightforward legal procedure that must be followed, ensuring that bail is posted and the defendant is actually released in a timely manner almost always requires a registered Thai lawyer to be present.
Again, the Thai legal system leaves much up for interpretation when it decides on the amount of bail required. Unlike some Western legal systems where bail amounts are fixed, bail amounts in Thailand are based on an average. This means that even if the Court recommends bail of 80,000 Thai baht (THB), the judge presiding over the bail decision may accept that amount as bail, or reject bail more than this amount. We often see that judges apply a “double rate” rule for foreign prisoners, so if bail has been recommended at 90,000 THB, the judge may actually set bail at 180,000 THB or higher.
Thailand Bail’s lawyers will accompany you to the appropriate court, complete the necessary documentation, and wait for the result from the judge. As the bail procedures are different for each Court, the cash provided for bail may be kept by the judge while he considers bail, but in other courts (such as the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court), you will hold on to your cash up until the point where the judge accepts the amount for bail. If the judge accepts the bail monies, they will be paid at the cashier’s desk in the same facility. This process typically takes from 1 hour - 4 hours, depending on how busy the Court is. If the judge accepts bail, the prisoner will be released, almost always within 24 hours. If the prisoner appears in Court and does regular reporting as required by law, the bail money will be returned at the conclusion of the case. If the prisoner “skips bail” and does not show up at the next Court date or mandatory reporting appearance, the bail money will be taken by the Court and not returned. As has been reported by popular media, some prisoners decide that posting bail and managing to leave the country is a better option. While Thailand Bail cannot recommend this course of action, we cannot deny that it may be the best option in the minds of the accused.
Our lawyers have helped defendants post bail ranging from 30,000 Thai baht (THB) all the way up to 1,000,000 THB. The Court will almost always post high bail amounts in the following situations:
1. When the defendant has been charged with the distribution of illegal drugs,
2. When the defendant has a prior history of violating conditions of release, and is considered a flight risk,
3. When the case has been widely reported on by newspapers, television news, and other Thai or international media.
If one or all of these describes your case, it may be quite difficult to be released on bail.
Yes, the Thai legal system allows for certain reductions in the bail requirement. Contact us for more information on ways in which to qualify for a bail reduction.
The Thai legal system lays out what will likely happen in a case, depending on what section of the Thai legal code your family / friend’s case falls under. Please contact us so we can answer this directly and correctly.
Thai law is fairly specific about who has jurisdiction in each case. However, it may take some time for the authorities to sort this out. In all cases, there are a series of important people who determine the fate of your family member or friend. Firstly, the police will make an arrest. This may be overseen by a greater authority, such as the Department of Special Investigation (DSI). Either way, the investigating officer from the police department will technically take over the case after the arrest. The investigating officer will manage the investigation of evidence for the case, and he will produce this in the form of a police report. This is the first step for Thailand Bail to assist with your case. Receiving the police report from the investigator is very important for us to determine what course of legal action to take. A public prosecutor may also be involved in the investigation of the case, especially if the DSI is involved. After the investigator completes his evidence-gathering activities, he will pass the case on to a separate public prosecutor. Depending on the case, the public prosecutor will be guided by the head public prosecutor in making certain key decisions for the case. After the public prosecutor receives the case folder from the investigating police officer, he will publish the formal indictment, presenting key evidence against the defendant(s).
The public prosecutor will publish the indictment against the defendant(s). Shortly thereafter, the defendant(s) will appear in the appropriate Court to hear the charges brought against them, and to make a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty.” In addition, the judge will ask if the defendant(s) have a lawyer. If your family member or friend does not yet have an attorney, the Court will assign one. Thailand Bail does not recommend using a Court-appointed defense attorney, because they do not have a good track record of winning cases for foreign defendants.
The police can hold someone suspected of a crime for up to forty-eight (48) hours. In most situations, public holidays and Sundays are not counted in this 48-hour rule for the Thai police. This rule also depends on which court the accused is being transferred to. One case we encountered involved someone being arrested on Friday, and the police decided to hold them for around 44 hours before transferring them to the Southern Criminal Court of Bangkok in time for the half-day Saturday court session. Bail was applied for and granted the following week.
This is a question that many of our clients want to know the answer to, and most are surprised to hear that prisoners can be held for up to ninety-six (96) days without being charged. This 96-day rule is only applied for major crimes, and most of our clients can legally be held for up to forty-eight (48) days without being formally charged. So, without our help, your friend or family member can be held in prison for 2 days by the police + 48 days by the court before even being charged! 50 days in custody in Thailand is a serious situation, and we work hard to have our clients released as quickly as possible.
After the 50 days being held by the police and the court (in prison), defendants will be charged with a specific crime in Thailand. After receiving the charges, the defendant will enter a plea of either "guilty" or "not-guilty." At this point, the judge overseeing the case will set the first hearing. This first hearing in Thai court usually takes at least 60-100 days to take place. This is not the trial, which will take place another 60-100 days after the first hearing. This is, of course, if everything runs smoothly in court. After the trial, the final ruling by the Thai judge usually takes 3-5 weeks to be announced. All of this happens no matter if the defendant is actually guilty or innocent.
So, without any legal assistance in Thailand, your friend or family is looking at the following period of incarceration:
Police: 2 days
Prison: 48 days
Wait for first hearing: 60-100 days
Wait for trial: 60-100 days
Wait for judge's ruling: 21-35 days
TOTAL INCARCERATION PERIOD: 191 - 285 days. The best case scenario amounts to over 6 months in prison.
The conditions in Thai prison range from unpleasant to deadly. Some of our clients have reported that other people in their rooms have died for no apparent reason. Other prisoners we have visited have developed skin conditions, respiratory ailments like active TB, heat exhaustion, and sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).
In the larger prisons like Klong Prem Prison and Bang Kwang Prison, prisoners are usually kept together in rooms that have been designed to hold around 25 people, but actually hold 45 - 50, according to actual reports from prisoners we visit there. This amounts to sleeping on the floor right next to other prisoners. The toilet is typically a hole in the corner of the room where everyone goes to relieve themselves.
Over the years, we have never seen anyone come out of Thai prison unaffected in some way or another. This is why speed and urgency are very important elements of our work at Thailand Bail.
Thailand Bail's lawyers and/or international case specialists visit clients 2 times per week. We have been recommended and lauded by prisoners in Thai jail, because no other law firm in Thailand visits its clients as often as we do.
This is extremely important, as most foreign prisoners start to experience mental problems from being in jail in Thailand for too long without any contact from the outside. Thailand Bail's international case specialists often buy small items for our clients too, such as fruit, Pepsi products, crackers, and even cigarettes, which are actively traded as a de facto currency inside the prison. For larger purchases of food items, we recommend that the family and friends of clients deposit money into the prisoners account so that they can buy things as well. The money takes a few days to post at the Thai jail, but Thailand Bail provides this service for free for its clients.
Thailand Bail's legal team charges a flat fee of 50,000 THB within Bangkok and 60,000 THB outside Bangkok to prepare everything for the bail process. What we do for each client is well worth the fee, and with every bail application we have processed we always do the following:
- Visit the client in the police holding cell (if client is still there) or at the prison (if client has already been transferred.
- Pick up all official documents pertaining to the case.
- Translate all documents pertaining to the case.
- Apply for bail at the appropriate court, including in the report all important details from the case documents as well as from relevant legal precedent.
- Locate the client's passport and apply to have it returned.
- Appear at the court for all hearings pertaining to the case.
Many clients ask how we can afford to commit so much time to bail. We always take a "full-press" approach to each case, making sure each clients has the best chance to be released from police or court custody. We are so sure that our clients will want to work with us in the future for every legal proceeding after bail, that we charge a low flat fee to do bail. We encourage you to ask other international law firms in Bangkok, Pattaya, or Phuket about how much they charge to do the same thing. We have found that other international law firms in Thailand charge based on a percentage basis, which means that up-front fees are often thousands of dollars.
As we continue to expand our clientele, we have also expanded the ways to make payments for legal fees and bail costs. Most clients pay via wire transfer, PayPal, or Western Union / Money Gram; however,if you have requested a credit card or debit card payment, our accounts department will have set it up on the following page. Once the payment has been received, the payment button will be removed from this page, so if you do not see the payment button, this means that the payment has not yet been set up.
Payments Page: http://www.thailandbail.com/payments
In Thailand, there are many so-called "lawyers" who visit the prisons every day looking for customers. These lawyers (who may not actually be licensed lawyers or barristers) even have prisoners on the inside looking for new customers, because they (or their families) receive a percentage of any money that lawyer manages to get.
Thailand Bail is different. We offer trust in a place and situation where this is hard to come by. We are approved by the Australian Attorney-General's Department in Canberra, Australia, and we liaise frequently with the Thailand-based embassies of Australia, Russia, Hungary, and others. We have gone through background checks for these organizations who do not work with fraudulent people.
Many, many clients have wired money to our accounts with no issue. Of course, we understand that some clients prefer to send money to relatives or close friends, and we support this approach as well. We encourage family members to attend bail applications, court appearances, and prison visits so they can see exactly what we are doing.
Yes, we believe that the more you know, the more likely you are to see that we are the best law firm to use. In fact, we find that many of our clients have already worked with other law firms and quickly found them to be useless, lazy, thieving, etc... On every case we end up taking, we do thorough due diligence to make sure it is a case that we want to take on. Then, if we agree to look into the case, we provide basic legal information for free. Once you understand the confusing court system in Thailand, you will see that we are experts in it. Knowledge is power, and when you are informed, you will see the value we bring to the situation.
Many lawyers will just take the case before knowing any details. This shows incompetence and lack of concern. We do not take every case that we find, because we cannot help in every case in Thailand. There are some cases where there is nothing that can be done. There are other cases that we do not take because of political reasons. It is important to realize that the cases we select are cases where we know we can help.