In a criminal case, soon after an arrest is effectuated against an accused, that individual will be subject to a decision of the Court as to whether the accused should be held on bond — and if so — the amount of the bond.
Bail is simply the giving of property (i.e., money) to the Court in exchange for the Court releasing a suspect from jail, with the understanding that the suspect will return for future court dates or forfeit the bail. It’s essentially a security.
A formal bail hearing will be held to determine the specifics. At that time, the defendant’s attorney and prosecuting attorney may advocate for the bail to be set at a certain level. It’s usually the case that the prosecuting attorney wants a high bail, and the defense attorney wants just the opposite. It all depends on the severity of the charges and the defendant’s personal history. The Court can do any number of things: release the Defendant on his or her own recognizance, hold him/her without bail, or set any sort of bond amount as the Court deems just and appropriate given the facts and circumstances.
One last important note is that should a bond be ordered, and the defendant directly or indirectly posts the bond, then in some circumstances that financial payment will be deemed as disqualifying the defendant from the assistance of a public defender. This needs to be taken into account, particularly because private criminal representation is costly.
As bail hearings are an extremely serious manner, it’s vital to consult with legal counsel.