Cash bail is a “deposit” of the entire bail amount in cash (or cashier's check) posted with the court to secure a defendant's release from jail. If the defendant appears in court as required, the entire amount is returned when the case is over. Cash bail is like a bank deposit that the court holds until the defendant's criminal matter has been resolved.
If the defendant shows up for all of his court appearances, he (or the person who made the cash bail) gets the money back. If he doesn't, the court gets to keep it. There are three ways to post bail: pay with cash, check or money order (cash bail or cash bond); pledge personal property (property bond) or use a bail bond.