If you watch television, you’ve probably seen variations of this scene dozens of times: a judge bangs a gavel and announces, “Bail is set at $100,000.” The defendant looks despondent as he consults with his lawyers. But somehow he ends up free while waiting for his trial to begin. One hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money to come up with — how did he afford it? And what did it mean when the defense attorney claimed his client was not a “flight risk”?
Bail works by releasing a defendant in exchange for money that the court holds until all proceedings and trials surrounding the accused person are complete. The court hopes that the defendant will show up for his or her court dates in order to recover the bail. Continue reading