Many people have heard the term “let out on their own recognizance” but don’t really know what it means. This is a way of saying you were released from jail with the promise that you will appear in court. While it isn’t always related to bail bonds, this is the most common way of a judge allowing someone to be released on recognizance (ROR).
What Exactly is Recognizance?
Recognizance is the same as an obligation or promise when released from jail. Similar to signing over a bail bond, you are promising that if released from jail, you will appear in court on your assigned court date and not leave the state or country. Judges have different reasons for releasing people on their own recognizance and it is a decision not taken lightly. Be sure to keep up your end up the bargain by not trying to leave the state and showing up for your court date or you could face penalties and tough consequences.
Recognizance and Bail
In most cases, recognizance is combined with bail. If someone is released from jail on their own recognizance, the judge might require a bail to be posted. This is money that must be paid before they can be released. If this is the case, you will need to either pay the cash upfront, sign over property to the courts as bail money, or visit a local bail bondsman to work out a deal with them. If you go that way, you will need to have 10-15% of the bond money and sign documents promising to pay the rest of the bond and that the person released will show up for their court date.
How Judges Decide to Release on Recognizance
Judges have different reasons for releasing someone on their own recognizance. It is entirely their own discretion and can choose to deny this option if they choose to do so. Many judges use the person’s track record or background as a basis for releasing them. They are more likely to release someone on recognizance if they have never been arrested before and the crime isn’t for something serious or a violent crime. Their employment and support of family members are also taken into consideration.
The recognizance officer is someone appointed to the court to help judges determine whether or not someone should be released from jail. If someone in jail requests to be released on bail or without, the judge can ask for a recognizance officer. This offer will do a background check, get more information on the charges and find out the accused has a high or low risk if they were to be released.
There are some other things you should know about recognizance. Many times, you can only be released if you’re waiting for a trial or if you are employed and need to return to work. You can be denied recognizance at any time; the decision is entirely up to the judge. If no bail is set, you are released on “your own recognizance” which means you can be released without paying a bail bond amount.