bail,n.1. A security such as cash or a bond; esp., security required by a court for the release of a prisoner who must appear at a future time <bail is set at $500>. Cf. RECOGNIZANCE. [Cases:Bail  39. C.J.S. Bail; Release and Detention Pending Proceedings§§ 2, 4–7, 31–32.]

bail absolute.A type of fiduciary bond conditioning a surety’s liability on the failure of an estate administrator, executor, or guardian to properly account for estate funds. See fiduciary bond under BOND(2).

cash bail.A sum of money (rather than a surety bond) posted to secure a prisoner’s release from jail. — Also termed stationhouse bail. [Cases: Bail  73. C.J.S. Bail; Release and Detention Pending Proceedings §§ 88–92.]

civil bail.A bond or deposit of money given to secure the release of a person arrested for failing to pay a court-ordered civil debt. • The bail is conditioned on the payment of the debt. [Cases: Bail  1. C.J.S. Bail; Release and Detention Pending Proceedings§§ 2, 191.]

excessive bail.Bail that is unreasonably high considering both the offense with which the accused is charged and the risk that the accused will not appear for trial. • The Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail. [Cases: Bail  52. C.J.S. Bail; Release and Detention Pending Proceedings § 69.]

stationhouse bail.See cash bail.

2. The process by which a person is released from custody either on the undertaking of a surety or on his or her own recognizance.
3. Release of a prisoner on security for a future appearance; esp., the delivery of a person in custody to a surety <the court refused bail for the accused serial killer>. [Cases: Bail  39. C.J.S. Bail; Release and Detention Pending Proceedings§§ 2, 4–7, 31–32.]
4. One or more sureties for a criminal defendant <the attorney stood as bail for her client>. See BAILER(1).“As a noun, and in its strict sense, bail is the person in whose custody the defendant is placed when released from jail, and who acts as surety for defendant’s later appearance in court…. The term is also used to refer to the undertaking by the surety, into whose custody defendant is placed, that he will produce defendant in court at a stated time and place.” 8 C.J.S. Bail § 2 (1988). bail above.See bail to the action. bail below.See bail to the sheriff.

bail common.Hist. A fictitious surety filed by a defendant in a (usu. minor) civil action. — Also termed common bail; straw bail.

“[T]he Common Pleas made a distinction between common and special bail, allowing the former, in cases where the defendant voluntarily appeared to the process, or where the damage expressed in it appeared to be but of a trifling amount, and requiring the latter only, when the plaintiff’s demand or the damage he had sustained appeared to be something considerable. In time therefore, in common cases, every defendant took the liberty of offering John Doe and Richard Roe, for his bail….” 1 George Crompton, Practice Common-Placed: Rules and Cases of Practice in the Courts of King’s Bench and Common Pleas lxi (3d ed. 1787).

bail to the action.Hist. A surety for a civil defendant arrested by a mesne process (i.e., a process issued during the lawsuit). If the defendant lost the lawsuit, the bail to the action was bound either to pay the judgment or to surrender the defendant into custody. — Also termed bail above; special bail. Cf. bail to the sheriff.

bail to the sheriff.Hist. A person who pledged to the sheriff that a defendant served with process during a civil action would appear on the writ’s return day. — Also termed bail below. Cf. bail to the action.

“This kind of bail is called bail to the sheriff, because given to that officer, and for his security; and bail below, because subordinate or preliminary to bail to the action or special bail, which is termed bail above.” 1 Alexander M. Burrill, A Law Dictionary and Glossary 174 (2d ed.1867).

common bail.See bail common. special bail.See bail to the action. straw bail.See bail common.

5.Obs.Legal custody of a detainee or prisoner who obtains release by giving surety for a later appearance.

6.Canadian law. A lease.

bail-à-rente. A lease in perpetuity.

bail emphytéotique.A renewable lease for a term of years that the lessee may prolong indefinitely.

bail,vb.1. To obtain the release of (oneself or another) by providing security for future appearance <his parents bailed him out of jail>. [Cases: Bail  39. C.J.S. Bail; Release and Detention Pending Proceedings§§ 2, 4–7, 31–32.] 2. To release (a person) after receiving such security <the court bailed the prisoner>. [Cases: Bail  39. C.J.S. Bail; Release and Detention Pending Proceedings§§ 2, 4–7, 31–32.] 3. To place (personal property) in someone else’s charge or trust < bail the goods with the warehouse>. 
[Blacks Law 8th]