Bail is the sum of money required to release defendants from custody pending their trial. It is also not a monetary penalty. It is not meant to be used as a form of punishment.
It is merely used to guarantee that defendants show up for their trials and any other pretrial hearings that they are required to attend. When a defendant’s trial is completed, their bail is returned to them, sometimes minus a processing charge in some states.
The judge or magistrate may release defendants on their own recognizance (without requiring payment of a fee) if they commit to present at all hearings and trials.
If the defendant has a solid career, roots in the town, or other personal circumstances that indicate they would not run, this is frequently done.
Defendants who cannot afford to pay can make arrangements for their release through a bonds person in most, but not all, states. The defendant must post a percentage of the total bond, usually 10%, in exchange for the bond person guaranteeing the remaining amount to the court if the defendant fails to appear in court.
Watch this video to learn more about bail and those who benefit from it.