What Is Bail?

What is bail? Bail is the most common release/detention decisions- making mechanism in American courts. Bail serves two purposes: (1) It helps ensure reappearance of the accused, and (2) It prevents unconvicted persons from suffering imprisonment unnecessarily. In the Eight Amendment states that excessive bail shall not be required, and it shall not have excessive finds. The Eight Amendment does not guarantee the opportunity for bail. The Bail Reform Act gave defendants this right to be released on a bail. A bail schedule has guidelines to a set price of bond to fit the defendant’s crime that will need to be paid before release.

Although a bail bond has its costs and duties, I believe that bail allowing defendants in non violent, non serious crimes to be released until proven guilty is a good thing. To extend the opportunity for pretrial release to a greater proportion of non dangerous arrestees, a number of states and the federal government now make available various alternatives to cash bond system. Bail consists of many different personal bonds including (1) release on recognizance, (2) citation release, (3) exoneration of bail, (4) surety bond, (5) property bond, (6) immigration bond, and lastly (7) a cash bond.

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As for juveniles, they are not eligible for bail. The Bail Reform Act of 1966 gave non capital defendants a right where a constitutional right is lacking, to be released pending trial, on his personal recognizance or on personal bond, unless the judicial officer determines that such incentives will not adequately assure his apparent at trial. Individuals charged with a capital crime, or who have been convicted and are awaiting sentencing or appeals are to be released unless the judicial officers has reason to believe that the defendant opposes danger to the community or if the defendant might flee.

There are bails that deal with different kinds of payments, and even some don’t need a payment at all, just a promise to appear in court. The first form of release I will be talking about is called, released on recognizance. When a defendant is released on recognizance the defendant is making a written agreement to return for further court appearances. Criteria for this release are (1) no previous convictions, (2) residential stability, and (3) good employment record. Those likely that fit the criteria are less likely to flee. Another form of bond is called, citation release which is also known as a “signature bond”.

Citation release is when an officer gives and arrestee citation stating that they have to appear in court. Usually this kind of citations is given when the person is arrested and then released. Citations are used only n cases of minor offenses such as traffic-law violations and some petty drug-law violations. This form of form of bail has no fee attachments. Another form of bond is called, surety bond. Surety bond is when a third party posts bond for the defendant which makes them entitled to pay the bails bondsman. A bail bondsman will take 10%-15% of the defendants set bail amount to be released.

The people who skip bail by hiding or fleeing will sometimes find that the courts have ordered them to forfeit their bail. Forfeit hearings must be held before a bond can be taken and most courts will not order bail forfeited unless it appears that the defendant intents to avoid prosecution permanently. They will keep that 10% even if the defendant does not appear in court like the defendant earlier agreed to. Another form of bond is called, immigration bond. Non like surety bond, immigration bond usually has the defendant pay 15%-20% of the original bail cost.

Instead of a bail bonds man, the people who are arrested as illegal immigrants have to deal with the Department of Homeland Security, or The Bureau of Immigration and Custom Enforcement. Another form of bond is called, property bond. Property bond is when the defendant or another person takes the responsibility to use real property having at levy the equal value of the defendants bail. If he or she does not appear to their set court date the state can levy or request a foreclosure against the propter to recover bail.

Another form of bond is called, a deposit bail. It’s an alternative form of a cash bond. This is usually cash bail accepted by the court instead of a bail bondsman. This bond wants the total amount bail posted from the court. If the defendant fails to appear in court on his or her set date, there will be a bench warrant sent out for their arrest. Also, the defendant will not be able to get back the cash they put up for their bail. On the other hand if a defendant does appear in court they will get their money back except or a small administrative fee of 1%.

And lastly exoneration of bail is when a defendant appeared to all their court dates scheduled. Then the bail has served its purpose and surety is returned. Bail is different between adult and juveniles. When an adult is arrested and scheduled for arraignment, he or she can be (1) remanded to jail, (2) released with a set bail amount, or (3) released on his or her own recognizance. Juveniles, however, are not eligible for bail, so the judge must decide either to release the minor to the custody of his or her parents or to remand the juvenile to a detention facility for minors.

State juvenile bail statues fall into three categories: (1) those guaranteeing the right to bail, (2) those that grand the court discretion to give bail, and (3) those that deny a juvenile the right to bail. The disparity may be a function of the lack of legal guidance on the matter. The U. S Supreme Court has never decided the issue of juvenile bail. Some courts have stated that bail provisions do not apply to juveniles. Others rely on the eight amendments against cruel and unusual punishment, or on the state constitutional provisions or statues and conclude that juveniles do have right to bail.

In conclusion, bail is an agreement between the judge and defendant to ensure their appearance in court, and it prevents unconvicted persons from suffering imprisonment unnecessarily. The Eighth Amendment does not ensure bail, but since the Bail Reform Act was created a defendant now has the opportunity for bail if they fit the right criteria. Bail is a part of a cash bond system with the courts. Bail consists of many different personal bonds including (1) release on recognizance, (2) citation release, (3) exoneration of bail, (4) surety bond, (5) property bond, (6) immigration bond, and lastly (7) a cash bond.


1. Champion, Dean J., and Dean J. Champion. Probation, Parole, and Community Corrections in the United States. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008. Print. 2. Roberson, Cliff, Harvey Wallace, and Gilbert B. Stuckey. Procedures in the Justice System. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2010. Print. 3. Schmalleger, Frank. Criminal Justice: A Brief Introduction. Boston, MA: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2010 4. Siegel, Larry J., and Brandon Welsh. Juvenile Delinquency: Theory, Practice, and Law. Australia: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2009. Print. 5. “Bail.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bail>. 6. Thomas, Steven. “Differences Between Adult & Juvenile Criminals.” Yahoo! Contributor Network. Yahoo, 23 Sept. 2006. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. <http://voices.yahoo.com/differences-between-adult-juvenile-criminals-79602.html>.

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