If you or a loved one is under arrest and behind bars, the court will usually set bail. Money Crashers explains this refers to your release from custody through paying a certain amount of money or meeting other conditions.
Bail is completely up to the court. The judge may use guidelines to set the amount or may release you without having to pay anything based on your word that you will show up to your next court hearing. Generally, though, bail requires payment to show the court you intend to come back when you must be in court next.
Bail is an important part of the criminal justice system. It allows you to get out of jail while waiting for your court hearings. This is beneficial to you and to the system because it frees up space in the jails.
The amount of bail directly relates to the crime. More serious crimes have higher bail amounts. In addition, if you have a criminal history, it may also increase the bail the court sets for you because a history of criminal activity makes you more of a risk to not reappear in court.
The court may also impose additional conditions as part of the bail. For example, the judge could order you not to have contact with certain people or to not do certain activities.
If you fail to show for court or break a condition of your bail agreement, the court can revoke it and issue a warrant for your arrest. When this happens, you lose any money you paid to the court for the bail.
In most cases, if you show up for court and you honor all conditions of the bail terms, you will be able to get back the money you paid upon the completion of your case or once the court lifts the bail.