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Understanding bail and bonds

If you are arrested for a crime, the judge will usually set what is called “bail.” Bail is sometimes set, per a schedule, immediately after you are booked for a crime. For more serious crimes, bail may not be set until your arraignment, which is the court date on which the charges are read against you and you enter your plea. Bail is the amount of money you are required to pay in order to leave jail during the period between your arraignment and trial. In some cases, the judge may deny bail, meaning that you will have to stay in jail to await your criminal trial. For example, people who commit particularly reprehensible crimes or who are considered to be a high flight risk may be denied bail. In most situations, you are not required to pay the full bail amount but are instead allowed to post a portion of it as a “bond.” The bond is your promise that you will show up for all required court appearances.

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