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2. Bind Overs

A Bind Over is neither a conviction nor a punishment. It is a preventative measure whereby a person enters into a recognisance before the court (gives a promise) to engage in good behaviour and to keep the peace for a period not exceeding three years. The recognisance is a promise to pay a specified sum of money if the recognisance is breached.

 

The bind over specifies the conduct which must not be committed during the period of the bind over. Two drivers may have argued, for example, over a parking space. One driver may have pushed the other and been arrested for common assault or even assault occasioning actual bodily harm. If that driver is a first offender who has led an otherwise blameless life, the prosecution may be prepared to accept a not-guilty plea in return for a bind over to keep the peace and not to engage in a further fight in a public place for 12 months.

 

In this case the driver is acquitted of assault and therefore has no criminal record. The procedure is a convenient way of dealing with comparatively minor offences which are not likely to be repeated. If the recognisance is breached, the driver will be ordered to pay all or part of the recognisance entered into at the time of the bind over. Orders made for payment of all or part of the recognisance if the bind over is breached are similarly not criminal convictions. The driver is simply paying all or part of the money he has undertaken to pay if the promise to the court to engage in good behaviour and keep the peace is not honoured.

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