What Does Bail Mean?

If you are like most people, you have heard about bail from the movies or the late night news in reference to a crime. However, most people are not sure what bail really means. The media rarely, if ever, provides a plain English explanation of what the word “bail” means and why it is so important. Let’s clear up any confusion there might be pertaining to bail and provide a simple explanation everyone can understand.

The Basics of Bail

An individual who is arrested for a crime can leave jail by posting bail. Bail is a dollar amount determined by the judge. If the individual charged with the crime can pay the bail in full, he or she can leave jail with the promise of returning to court for a hearing on the scheduled date and time. However, bail is not the same in every case.

The amount of money that bail is set at is determined by all sorts of different factors. The magnitude of the charge, the likelihood of a subsequent crime, the suspect’s potential threat to the community as a whole, and additional factors all shape the judge’s decision on the bail amount. In fact, the judge can deny bail if the defendant is a flight risk likely to leave town after getting out of jail or if he or she poses a threat to the rest of the community members. However, it must be noted the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits excessive bail.

Bail Is Not the Same as a Bond

There is a common misconception that bail and bond mean the same thing. Though these terms are often used in place of one another when referring to release from jail, they are not exactly the same. Bail is the amount of money the charged party is required to pay in order to depart jail. Alternatively, the bond is money which is posted on behalf of the defendant. 

A bail bond company typically posts bail to secure the defendant’s release from jail. In other words, bail is not meant to be punitive. Bail is a means of obtaining the defendant’s agreement to adhere to specific conditions and eventually show up in court at a specific date and time for a hearing. However, if the conditions of the defendant’s release are violated after posting bail or if the defendant fails to show up to court on the scheduled date and time, the money paid will likely be forfeited.

The Bail Hearing

The judge establishes the bail amount and the conditions for release from jail at the bail hearing as noted above. This hearing can result in the defendant being released on his or her own recognizance, meaning the individual departs jail but signs an agreement to honor specific conditions and return to court. The defendant can also be released on personal bond, meaning the defendant departs jail after signing a bond that states that he or she is liable for criminal or civil penalties for failing to appear in court.

The judge can also set bail with terms of release at the bail hearing. If the defendant pays bail at the amount established by the court, he or she can go free. The money can be paid directly by the defendant or he or she can obtain a surety bond by way of a bail bond company. Bail bond businesses typically charge a specific percentage of the bail amount for bailing out the defendant from jail. This small amount of money is worth it considering it triggers a return to freedom. Though the judge can also use the bail bond hearing to deny bail due to a flight risk, prior criminal history, or the threat the defendant poses to the community, most judges set bail in the majority of cases.

Contact Just Bail Bonds Today 

Are you or a loved one in need of bail after an arrest around Arlington, TX? Don’t suffer in silence day after day in a jail cell. Instead, reach out to the bail bond specialists at Just Bail Bonds by dialing 817-303-3400. We will get you out of jail so you can return your life to normal.