What is the Purpose of Bail?

After an arrest, a person is arraigned. At this point, the judge may decide to set bail. Bail is a way for a defendant to be temporarily released from custody pending the outcome of his or her case. It essentially serves as a form of insurance for the court; by requiring that defendants secure bail bonds, a Maryland court can receive some measure of assurance that they will appear for their next court appearance. If a defendant fails to appear, the bail bond is withdrawn and the defendant is returned to custody.

Bail bonds are essentially an extension of the principle that all suspects are innocent until proven guilty. Until a defendant is proven guilty, he or she might avoid the punishment of jail while awaiting trial and continuing to carry out daily responsibilities, such as going to work and taking care of his or her family. Provided the defendant meets all requirements of the bail bond, the money is typically returned at the end of the trial, regardless of whether the defendant is found guilty or not guilty. However, if the defendant tries to flee the area and skip the trial, he or she forfeits the money used to secure the bail bond.

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