Bail Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Bail, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Bail?

(n) Bail is the security provided by an accused taken into custody, for his temporary release from judicial custody, for due diligence and observance of court formalities until trial or the final verdict in the case against him is made. The quantum and type of bail depends on the crime

History and Meaning of Bail

Bail has been used as a legal term since the medieval period when it was used to describe the temporary release of someone who had been arrested or imprisoned. The system of bail was put in place as a way of ensuring that accused individuals would return for their trial, as they would have to provide a form of collateral or security, such as property or money, that would be forfeited if they failed to appear. The amount and type of bail can depend on a variety of factors, including the severity of the crime, the individual's criminal record, and the likelihood that they will flee or pose a threat to society if released.

Examples of Bail

  • John was arrested for theft and was granted bail, but he had to surrender his passport and agree to check in with the court regularly until his trial date.
  • Maria was charged with assault and battery and was initially denied bail due to the severity of the crime, but her lawyer successfully argued for her release by providing evidence of her strong ties to the community and a lack of criminal history.
  • David was accused of a white-collar crime and was released on bail by agreeing to wear an ankle monitor and follow strict restrictions on his travel and communication while he awaited his trial.

Legal Terms Similar to Bail

  • Bond: Similar to bail, a bond is a form of collateral that is provided to ensure the accused will return for their trial, but generally provided by a third-party instead of the accused.
  • Release on Recognizance: This refers to the release of an accused without the need for bail, typically granted in cases where the crime is minor and the individual has a low risk of fleeing or causing harm.
  • Detention: This is the opposite of bail, where an individual is held in police custody or a detention facility without the possibility of release until their trial or until certain conditions are met.