What is Bail? Everything You Need to Know

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What is Bail? Everything You Need to Know Bail is a financial bond that is posted with the court in order to secure the release of a defendant from jail before their trial.

The bail amount is set by the judge and is typically based on the severity of the charges, the defendant’s flight risk, and their ability to pay.

How Bail Works

When a defendant is arrested, they are taken to jail and booked. At their arraignment, the judge will set bail. If the defendant can afford to pay the bail amount, they will be released from jail. If they cannot afford to pay the bail amount, they will remain in jail until their trial.

Types of Bail

There are two main types of bail:

  • Cash bail: The defendant posts the full bail amount in cash with the court.
  • Surety bail: The defendant pays a bail bondsman a percentage of the bail amount, typically 10-15%. The bail bondsman then posts the full bail amount with the court.

Bail Reform

The bail system has been criticized for being unfair to poor defendants who cannot afford to pay bail. As a result, there has been a movement to reform the bail system. Some jurisdictions have eliminated cash bail altogether, while others have instituted risk-assessment tools to determine whether a defendant should be released before trial.


Bail is a complex issue with a long history. The bail system is currently undergoing reform, and it is likely to continue to evolve in the years to come.

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