Bail is a term that describes the release of a criminal defendant or arrested after an arrest prior to the end of the criminal case. Bail can – but does not always – involve the defendant (or someone on the defendant’s behalf) paying money to a court. The money ensures that the defendant returns to court for the remainder of the criminal justice process. Therefore, bail is not a punishment given prior to a person being found guilty of any crime, but a way to ensure that criminal defendants return to court without the necessity of keeping them in custody the entire time.

In general, any time someone is arrested there will be three possible outcomes: the arrestee is released, the arrestee is charged and released on bail, or the arrestee is charged and remains in custody until the case comes to an end. Bail is one way people can be released from jail prior to a court determining guilt.

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