On the list of bits of knowledge that you hope you will never have to use in real life, along with how to escape from a car underwater and how to bring down an angry bear, is an understanding of the bail system. However, it can be good to at least have a working knowledge of what bail is and how it works, just in case you or someone you know ever ends up in jail. Let’s say you commit a crime and get arrested. Bail is the amount of money that the courts require from you as a security deposit if you want to be released until your court date. Show up for court and the money can be returned to you. Failure to show on your appointed day results in the court keeping the bail.

It’s important to remember, however, that there are times when a court will flat out deny bail, making it impossible for you to get released before your court date. Here are the two main reasons why this might happen…


If the judge assigned to your case suspects that you will not return for your court appearance, he or she can deny your bail altogether. Why might they suspect such a thing? Here are some reasons.

–        You’ve failed to show up to court in the past.

–        You told an officer or a court representative that you aren’t returning.

–        You are behaving in an aggressive manner.

–        Your crime has a heavy penalty and you obviously don’t want to face the sentence.

–        You are mentally impaired and don’t have the support system to ensure that you’ll show at the appointed time.

For these reasons, it’s in your best interest to make it clear that you plan on coming to court and to behave respectfully to all officers and court representatives you come in contact with.


Usually, some kind of bail is posted. It can range from a small sum to a million dollars. The person facing jail time can pay it themselves, have a loved one pay it for them or work with a bondsman to pay the expense. However, if you are being tried for a serious crime, like murder, the judge has the right to withhold bail. This ensures that you will stand trial for what you did. Based on your crime, if the judge feels that you might be a danger to the general public, he or she can choose to deny bail. If the judge feels that you might pose a threat to the victim of the crime you were arrested for, he or she can choose to have you remain in custody until your trial.