By: Paula Lennon
Takeaway: Bail, a type of collateral that allows defendants to maintain their freedom before a court date, is set by a judge based on a variety of factors.
The chances of ending up in a U.S. jail are not as slim as many people believe. Contrary to popular belief, it is not only a place for hardened criminals who find themselves behind bars with only a hard bed and a toilet for company. Honest individuals can sometimes find themselves under arrest and being booked too. In some cases, they may have found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time and be suspected of illegal activity; they may be innocent bystanders to a melee; or they may simply match the description of a wanted person. For some innocent persons, jail may simply involve a few hours of physical discomfort while the allegations are sorted out before they are released without charge. The less fortunate will remain under arrest and may even eventually be charged with a crime. Those detainees will be equally keen to leave their jail cells; however, sometimes their only option is to post bail.