Definition of Bail

Bail is the form of pledging property or money to a court in exchange for the release of prisoner from jail (Lectric Law Library, 2008). Usually, bail is done with the understanding that the person suspected of committing a crime will appear for trial or else for he or she will forfeit the bail and become guilty of another crime which is failure to appear before court. In most instances, if the suspect appears in court in all the days he or she is required to do so, the court will return to him or her the bail money after the trial has ended, whether or not the suspect is handed down a guilty verdict.

In short, the main purpose of bail is to the provide the court some form of assurance that the suspect will not flee from the crime he or she is accused of and will appear in his or her trials when he or she is commanded to do so. Moreover, bail also has humanitarian purposes. For example, in most cases, the trial of a suspect would begin after weeks or months upon his or her arrest. Since he or she is still a suspect and not yet proven guilty, he or she is entitled to bail before the trial commences in order for him not to miss occasions such as family gatherings and holidays, among others.

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Furthermore, there are several types of bail. These include the cash bail, release on citation or cite out, property bond, release on own personal recognizance, and surety bond (Silverman, 2008). The cash bail is one of the most commonly used types of bail. As its name implies, it involves the suspect paying the bail in full amount using cash. However, there are certain times that the court may also accept credit cards and checks.
Cite out is when the arresting office does not book a suspect and instead gives him or her a citation that states that the accused must show up in court (Silverman, 2008). This is usually done so that the officer can focus on arresting more serious violators of the law. On the other hand, property bond is when the accused can present his or her property to serve as a bond (Silverman, 2008). In this case, the court then obtains a lien or legal claim on the suspect’s property in the bail’s amount.
If the suspect fails to go to his or her required court appearances, the court can decide to shut out the property in order to retrieved the forfeited bail (Silverman, 2008). Release on own personal recognizance is when a judge decides to release the accused based on his personal recognizance, which means that he or she does not have to pay bail but is solely responsible for his or her appearing in court at the required dates (Silverman, 2008). Finally, surety bond or bail bond is when another party lawfully agrees to pay the debt of the suspect.
This is usually performed by a bail bondsman, who will receive 10 per cent of the amount of bail payment required and will keep the amount for himself or herself even if the defendant fails to show up in court (Silverman, 2008). In the United States, the bail law was mainly based on a system implemented in England in 1677 (Silverman, 2008). During that year, the English parliament created the Habeas Corpus Act and one of its provisions enabled magistrates to set bail terms.
In addition, the 1689 English Bill of Rights restricted excessive bail, which was also used in the constitution of the state of Virginia and United States Constitution’s Eighth Amendment (Silverman, 2008). However, in essence, the bail is provided under the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution which states that all people who are arrested must be “informed of the nature and cause of the accusation” (Silverman, 2008) they are charged with. In addition, the Sixth Amendment also enables a suspect to ask for bail if he or she is accused of a bailable crime.
Moreover, at present, the terms and conditions of bail in the United State are contained in the 1984 Bail Reform Act that replaced the 1966 Bail Reform Act, which in turn, repealed the Judiciary Act of 1789 (Silverman, 2008). However, although bail is provided under the Sixth Amendment and in other US laws, it does not necessarily guarantee that everyone accused of a crime has a right to post bail. Under the current law, defendants who pose a great danger to society are held in prison without bail until their trial starts.
Other suspects that cannot post bail include those who have committed serious crimes and capital offenses, repeat criminals or offenders, and those who may be at flight risk (Silverman, 2008). References Lectic Law Library. (2008). Bail. Retrieved September 29, 2008 from http://www. lectlaw. com/def/b004. htm. Silverman, J. (2008). How Bail Works. How Stuff Works. Retrieved September 29, 2008 from http://people. howstuffworks. com/bail. htm.


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