Most people think about bail as one of two things - the pretrial release process as a whole, or the amount of money that courts set as a secured or unsecured condition of pretrial release. However, the term “bail” is frequently defined as something very specific in state statute, meaning that this phrase can mean something different in every state and can even have multiple definitions in a single state.
For example, California Penal Code § 1299.01 defines bail as “a bail agent, a bail permittee or a bail solicitor licensed by the Department of Insurance.” Idaho defines bail as the “monetary amount required by the court to release the defendant from custody and to ensure his appearance in court as ordered.”
In Delaware, bail can be 1) a conditions of release bond, 2) a conditions of release bond not guaranteed by financial terms, 3) a conditions of release bond guaranteed by financial terms, or 4) a conditions of release bond guaranteed by financial terms and secured by cash only.
Maine’s definition refers more to bail as the pretrial process stating that bail “means the obtaining of the release of the defendant upon an undertaking that the defendant shall appear at the time and place required and that the defendant shall conform to each condition imposed in accordance with section 1026 that is designed to ensure that the defendant shall refrain from any new criminal conduct, to ensure the integrity of the judicial process and to ensure the safety of others in the community.”