If you find yourself in jail for a minor offense, then your first thought will probably be “how can I get out?” and the way to get out quick is through bail. Posting a bond – cash, or property, is a way of showing to the courts that you intend to stay in town and that you will appear in court when required. If you do not stick to the terms of the bail, then the courts can issue a warrant for your arrest.
Judges will set bail based on the offense that you have committed. Many jails have a list of prices for bail amounts for a typical list of crimes, and if you are arrested, you can simply pay the amount that is laid out in the schedule. If you can’t afford that amount, it is possible to request a hearing to have the bail lowered, and things like your age, income, and whether you have committed a crime before are considered when deciding how much you would need to pay.
Sometimes you will be asked to buy a bond (of 10% of the bail amount), but this can work out more expensive than just putting up the bail in the long term because interest is charged on bonds. If you can afford it, then it makes more sense just to pay the bond. Bond sellers can cash in on the interest that is paid if you fail to appear in court.
In some limited circumstances, people are released on a promise, known as their recognizance, rather than having to pay to get out of jail while they wait for a trial. This is something that will usually only happen for minor crimes and first offenses where there is no public risk.