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Bail: What is It and Where Does It Come From?

Being arrested can be one of the most challenging and stressful experiences a person can face. In many cases, people do not understand what their rights are and how the court system works. Below, you will learn about bail and how it might apply in your situation.

If you are arrested, the judge decides what will happen to you before your trial. One of two things might happen:

  • You will be released on your own recognizance
  • You will have to post bail

If you are released on your own recognizance, the court will require you to sign a written statement that you will appear in court at a later date. The judge’s decision as to whether you will be released without bail depends on a variety of factors:

  • Your criminal record
  • Whether or not you pose a threat to others
  • How likely you are to flee the state or country

In many cases, the judge may allow you to retain your freedom as long as you agree to appear for your court date. If not, you will have to post bail.

What Is Bail?

If the judge does not decide to release you on your own recognizance, he will set bail. This means that the court requires a financial guarantee that you will show up for your court appearance.

You will be required to pay a sum of money to the court in order to be released. The amount will either be the full amount of the bail or a percentage. You also promise to appear in court at a later date. When you appear in court on your date, you will get your money back. If you fail to appear in court, the judge might issue a warrant for your arrest, and you won’t be able to get your money back.

Bail Bond Agents

In some cases, a defendant may not have enough money to post bail. If this is the case, you might need to enlist the services of a bail bond agent. A commercial bail bond agent can pay the amount on your behalf. Of course, you will need to repay him for the service. Agents usually charge about 10% to 20% of the bail amount. If you fail to appear in court, the bail agent will pay the remainder of the bail.

Where Bail Originated

Bail law originates from the Judiciary Act of 1789. This law mandated that all non-capital offenses were subject to bail. The law also limits the judge’s powers when it comes to setting a bail amount. The law has been revised a number of times since its inception in order to ensure that defendants are treated fairly.

If you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, it’s important to understand how the court proceedings will progress. Speaking with a licensed attorney will help you ensure that you are as informed as possible.

Claire Stewart is a freelance writer and blogger focused on writing about health, travel, and business among other topics. She graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelors in Women’s Studies and currently lives in Seattle with her goldfish, Merlin.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

About This Blog

The title of this blog reflects my attitude toward those government agencies and insurance companies that routinely mistreat injured or disabled people. As a Dallas, Texas lawyer, I've spent more than 45 years trying to help those poor folk, and I have been frustrated daily by the actions of the people on the other side of their claims. (Sorry if I offended you...)

If you find this type of information interesting or helpful, please visit my law firm's main website at You will find many more articles and links. Thank you for your time.

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