Bail, as you likely know, is defined as either: “security, usually a sum of money, exchanged for the release of an arrested person as a guarantee of that person’s appearance for trial,” or “release from imprisonment provided by the payment of such money.” So bail can be either a noun (to pay bail) or verb (to make bail).
It is not up to the defendant whether bail is set or not, however they are allowed to ask to be released, and a court can consider the request. Their decision will be based largely on the crime itself and upon whether or not it is the judge’s opinion that the defendant may attempt to flee or otherwise to not appear at the next summons.
In other words, the court has to weigh many factors. There is no rubber stamp decision; every case is different and it is incumbent upon the defendant’s attorney to attempt to argue in favor of the defendant being released on their own recognizance versus having to come up with the bail money. In some cases, the bail amount is much higher than an average person can pay, which the court fully realizes when setting such high bail amounts.
But if the court honestly feels that the defendant “poses a flight risk,” or again, if “the crime for which the defendant is being charged was violent in nature,” then the court may either set a high bail or no bail at all, meaning the defendant has no option but to remain in custody. In such a case, the defendant can always ask for a later bail hearing…but there are never any guarantees!