Frequently Asked Questions
What is Bail?
Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court in order to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail (“skipping bail” or “jumping bail” is also illegal).
The word bail as a legal term means:
- Security, usually a sum of money, exchanged for the release of an arrested person as a guarantee of that person’s appearance for trial. As a verb, bail in this instance means to secure the release of an arrested person by providing bail.
- Release from imprisonment on payment of such money. As a verb, bail in this instance means to release a person under such guarantee.
- The person providing such payment.
The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that bail not be excessive. This means that bail should not be used to raise money for the government or to punish a person for being suspected of committing a crime. The purpose of bail is to give an arrested person his/her freedom until he/she is convicted of a crime, the amount of bail must be no more than is reasonably necessary to keep her from fleeing before a case is over. Bail is set to assure the attendance of the defendant, when his or her appearance is required in court.. In most cases, bail money will be returned at the end of the trial, if all court appearances are made, no matter whether the person is found guilty of the crime accused. Legislatures also set out certain crimes to be “unbailable,” such as capital crimes.
There are two ways to pay your bail. You may either pay the full amount of the bail or buy a bail bond. A bail bond is like a check held in reserve: It represents your promise that you will appear in court when you are supposed to. You pay a bond seller (i.e. Bail Bondsman to post a bond a certain sum of money) with the court, and the court keeps the bond in case you don’t show up.