Bail Essay

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The concept  of bail originates  in British criminal law practice and became institutionalized in North America and other common law jurisdictions  after

America’s independence in the 18th  century.  It is, therefore, not  as established  and  institutionalized in civil law  jurisdictions  as found  in most  European states.

Bail refers to a judicial  interim  release, or pretrial release, of an accused who has been taken into custody,  pending  the determination of charges.  In Western  legal systems,  a person  is innocent  until proven  guilty, but an innocent  person  can be held in custody and not be released unless bail is posted or a judge decides that  the case is serious  enough not  to  allow  bail.  This  decision  can  be  made  as early as at the so-called arraignment. After arrest, the accused makes a court appearance, at which he or  she is formally  charged;  this  is called arraignment. At the arraignment, the accused  is called in court by name, the charges are read to the accused, and the accused is asked whether  he or she enters a plea of guilty or not guilty.

In some countries, a legal right to bail is guaranteed  in  constitutional  documents. For  example, Section  11(e)  of the  Canadian Charter of Rights and  Freedoms  provides  that  “any  person  charged with an offence has the right not to be denied reasonable  bail without just cause.”

A bail  review  is an  appeal  on  the  decision  of judicial   interim   release   (bail)   and   allows   the accused or the prosecutor to apply to a judge of a superior  court of criminal jurisdiction for a review of the  bail  set by a justice  or  a provincial  court judge.

The  bail  bond   is  the  document  executed   to secure the pretrial  release of an individual  in custody of the law. This document is used as a surety bond  to ensure that  the defendant returns  to court at  the  specified  place  and  time.  If the  defendant does not show up on the scheduled court dates, he or she forfeits the bond  and a warrant for arrest  is issued.

Likewise,  in the  United  States,  for  example,  a bail review before a judge can be requested  by the accused if the bond  is set very high. This gives the accused the chance to plead her or his case without entering trial proceedings, show support from family and  friends,  and  give the  judge  some  insight into the personality of the accused for the purpose of bail review only. A bail review can be asked for at the arraignment (when the bail is set) and can be administered immediately.

Posting bail serves two  purposes:  (1) it relieves the accused of imprisonment, and (2) it secures the appearance of the accused at trial without burdening the state  with  the cost and  bother  of keeping the accused in jail pending  trial. If an accused has posted  bail and  breaches  the bail terms, the prosecutor can apply for forfeiture  of the money to the state.  In this  case, the  accused  is treated  as if no bail was posted, and an arrest warrant for the capture of the defendant is issued. The court  can also set a date for apprehending the fugitive, or else the full bond  amount must be paid.

Bail jumping,  the  violation  of bail  terms,  is a separate   criminal  offense.  It  demonstrates  ignorance of judicial procedures and may result in the imposition   of  additional  prison   time,  over  and above that for the offense that provoked the defendant’s flight in the first place.

The  bailiff  is  a  court  attendant, a  person  to whom  some  authority, guardianship, or  jurisdiction  is entrusted. A bailiff is usually  employed  by the sheriff’s department to serve writs and to make arrests  and  executions  of court  orders.  The bailiff is bound  annually  to  the  sheriff  by a bond  with sureties  for  the  proper   execution   of  his  or  her office and is therefore  called a bond  bailiff.

Bail bond  companies  make  it their  business  to post  bail  for  the  arrested. Usually,  the  bail  bond will  cost  the  defendant  10  percent   of  the  bail amount, and  many  companies   take  property as collateral. The bail bond amount is nonrefundable, but it can get a murderer out of jail until trial. On payment  of the bail amount, the bondsman posts bail, and the accused is released immediately.

Hiding  to avoid  arrest  or prosecution is called absconding. Absconding while on bail is a criminal offense  subject  to  a  penalty.   It  is  an  indictable offense, carrying terms of imprisonment.

Bail As  Surety  Obligation (In General)

Bail is, in effect, a contract, but  a contract by the person   bailed  or  a  third   party   to  indemnify   a surety is void as contrary to public policy. Generally, bail is a monetary or other security given to ensure the appearance of the accused at every stage of the proceedings. Those  posting   bail  are  sureties  or guarantors (bondsman), and the money is the security for the accused’s appearance.

A bailee is one to whom  the property involved in  a  bailment   is  delivered.  The  bailee  holds  the goods of another for a specific purpose pursuant to an agreement  between  the  parties.  The  person  to whom   possession   of  goods  is  entrusted  by  the owner,  but with no intention of transferring ownership,  is  the  bailee.  A bailee  acquires  a  special interest  or  property in  the  goods.  He  or  she  is bound  to take care of the goods bailed and is liable for negligence to an extent that varies with the specifics of negligence.

In criminal law, the accused is released from the custody  of the  police and  entrusted to his or her sureties, who are bound  to produce  the accused at a specified time and place. Failure to do so results in the forfeiture  of the security placed as bail.

A bailor is the party who bails or delivers goods, chattels, or personal  property to another person in a contract or bailment.  The bailor  need not be the owner  of the property involved.

Bailment is the delivery of personal  property or chattels from the bailor (who delivers the goods) to the bailee (who receives the goods) in trust  with a special  purpose, to  benefit  either  or  both  of  the parties.  The  purpose  of the  trust  conforms  to  an express or implied contract. The elements of lawful possession  and  the duty  to account  for the article as the property of another are important aspects of the  bailment.  Different  forms  of bailment  can  be distinguished.

Actual bailment  is a bailment  established  by an actual  or constructive  delivery of property to the bailee or his or her agents.

Constructive bailment  arises  when  the  person having   possession   holds  it  under   such  circumstances  that   the  law  imposes   an  obligation  to deliver it to another, even where such a person did not  come into  possession  voluntarily and  thus  no bailment   was  voluntarily established.  A primary example  is that  of the finder  who,  although possessing goods without the knowledge or consent of the owner,  is deemed to owe him or her a duty of reasonable  care and a duty to convert  the chattel.

Gratuitous bailment   is  a  type  of  bailment   in which the care and custody of the bailor’s property is accepted  without consideration by the bailee. In this type of bailment, the bailee is liable for the loss of the bailed property only if the loss results from the bailee’s gross negligence.

Involuntary bailment  arises whenever  goods  of one person have by accident become lodged on another’s  land.  If the  person  on  whose  land  the personal   property  is  located   should   refuse   to deliver   the   goods   to   their   rightful   owner   on demand  or refuse to permit  the owner  to remove them,  he or she might  be liable for conversion  of the said property.


  1. Arena, Samuel J., Jr., Bruce Charles King, and Richard  Towle. The Law  of Commercial  Surety and Miscellaneous  Bonds,  2nd ed. Chicago: American Bar Association,  2013.
  2. The Crown Prosecution Service. “Legal Guidance  to Bail.” (Accessed October 2014).
  3. Harr, J. Scott, Kären Matison Hess, Christine Hess Orthmann, and Jonathan Kingsbury. Constitutional Law  and the Criminal  Justice System,  6th ed. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2014.
  4. Lippmann, Matthew Ross. Criminal Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2014.
  5. Saltzburg, Stephen A. and Daniel J. Capra.  American Criminal  Procedure: Cases and Commentary, 9th ed. St. Paul, MN: Thomson-West, 2010.
  6. Trotter, Gary T. The Law of Bail in Canada, 2nd ed. Scarborough, Ontario, Canada: Carswell, 1999.
  7. Van Malleghem, Franz, Henry VanMalleghem, and Louis VanMalleghem. Le bail à ferme: compilation des textes législatifs usuels de droit rural—guide  pratique  (The Lease: Compilation of Customary Laws of Rural  Law: A Practical  Guide). Brussels, Belgium: La Charte, 2011.

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