In rare circumstances, the judge may order a defendant held in custody until trial, with no possibility of pre-trial release. In most cases, however, the judge will allow the defendant to be released (1) upon his or her own recognizance, (2) into the custody of a family member or some third party, or (3) upon posting bail (or bond) in a certain dollar amount.
The reason for requiring some defendants to post bail is to help ensure their appearance at all necessary hearings and trial. When bail is required, the judge will set the amount based on such factors as the seriousness of the offense, the defendant's prior criminal record, and the likelihood that the defendant will appear as ordered, given his or her ties to the community.
Defendants who are released from custody must adhere to specific conditions set by the judge. These conditions may include things such as avoiding certain people or places, not drinking alcohol, and demonstrating law-abiding behavior.