What does being ‘on remand’ mean?
If you are charged with an offence and you are in prison waiting for your trial, then you are ‘on remand’. You can be remanded in custody or released on bail.
The decision to remand you in custody depends on a number of things, including:
- the type of offence you are charged with
- the evidence in support of the charge
- your previous history of turning up at court
- your previous behaviour while on bail (if you ever were)
- whether or not you are awaiting trial for other offences
- whether or not there is evidence that witnesses will be intimidated while you are awaiting trial
- whether or not a senior Garda officer believes that you need to be remanded in custody to prevent a serious offence being committed.
The District Court can remand you in prison for up to eight days – no more – on your first appearance at the court.
On your second appearance, you can be remanded for a further 15 days or for 16 to 30 days if you and your legal advisor agree.
Your rights as a remand prisoner are not the same as sentenced prisoners in relation to visits. There is further information on this below.
If I’m on remand, will I be placed with convicted prisoners?
This depends on what prison you are sent to on remand. The Minister has to, as far as it is possible, separate remand prisoners from sentenced prisoners. (Rule 71) This is to maintain the safety of prisoners and staff and to protect the human rights of prisoners as far as possible.
If you are a male remand prisoner in Dublin, you may be sent to Cloverhill prison. It is the only prison in Ireland which is just for remand prisoners. If you live outside Dublin, then you will be remanded in the nearest prison to you and you might have to share a cell with sentenced prisoners.
What right to visits do I have as a remand prisoner?
Remand prisoners have the right to a 15-minute-long ordinary visit each day, for up to six days of the week. A prisoner can name up to eight people on their visitor panel each month. Once you have nominated a person, they can book an appointment to visit you through the prison.
Can I have access to private healthcare as a remand prisoner?
Yes. Prisoners who have not yet been convicted can, with the permission of the Governor, access the services of a doctor or dentist other than the prison doctor or dentist.
The Governor must agree that there is a real medical need for the medical professional to visit the prison. (Rule 73)
If you are allowed to receive private healthcare, you will have to pay any expenses from the visit of the doctor or dentist to the prison. If you agree, the Governor can pay these expenses out of any money belonging to you which was kept by the Governor for safe keeping after you were admitted to prison. (Rule 74)
What type of regime will I have access to on remand?
Remand prisoners may, with the agreement of the Governor, take part in authorised structured activities, like education or work, but you will not be forced to do this. (Rule 72)