The release by the police, magistrates' court, or Crown Court of a person held in legal custody while awaiting trial or appealing against a criminal conviction. Conditions may be imposed on a person released on bail by the police. A person granted bail undertakes to pay a specified sum to the court if he fails to appear on the date set by the court (see also justifying bail). This is known as bail in one's own recognizance. Often the court also requires guarantors (known as sureties) to undertake to produce the accused or to forfeit the sum fixed by the court if they fail to do so. In these circumstances the bailed person is, in theory, released into the custody of the sureties. Judges have wide discretionary powers as to whether or not bail should be granted, and for what sum. Normally an accused is granted bail unless it is likely that he will abscond, or interfere with witnesses, or unless he is accused of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, rape, or attempted rape and has a previous conviction for such an offence. The accused, and the prosecution in limited circumstances, may appeal.
From: bail in A Dictionary of Law »