Release on Recognizance

Release on Recognizance in the United States

A method by which people awaiting criminal prosecution are released. Release on recognizance, also known as ROR, is an alternative to pretrial detention and does not require the accused to post bail in order to obtain release. A determination as to whether a person is released on personal recognizance is made by the trial court. Often, release is based on nothing more than the accused’s written promise to appear at all remaining legal proceedings. In deciding whether to permit ROR, a judge or magistrate must consider the nature and circumstances of the charged offense as well as assess the likelihood of flight. Such factors as family relationships, employment, previous criminal record, length of residency in the community, and general character are relevant to such a determination. Release on recognizance is wholly within the discretion of the court and special conditions such as release to the custody of another may be attached. Those charged with violent felonies are usually categorically ineligible for ROR.

See Also

Pretrial Detention (Criminal Process) Pretrial Relese (Criminal Process).

Analysis and Relevance

Release on recognizance was developed in large measure to reduce the inequities of pretrial release based on financial resources. Indeed, ROR and the deposit system are among pretrial release “reforms” instituted since the early 1960s to take the harsh economic edge off the pretrial release process. ROR is not only effective in providing greater equity of access to pretrial release, but also in assuring that defendants appear when required. The first extensive examination of ROR came in the Manhattan Bail Project conducted in New York City in the early 1960s, and it became immediately apparent that personal ties to the community provide sufficient incentives for a person to return to court. Subsequent studies continue to show that ROR lowers “bail jumping” among those who qualify for ROR.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Release on Recognizance from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Release on Recognizance in the Criminal Justice System

This section covers the topics below related with Release on Recognizance :


Pretrial Release and Services

Release on Recognizance: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Release on Recognizance. This part provides references, in relation to Release on Recognizance, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Release on Recognizance by content types:

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Federal Case Law and Court Materials

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Presidential Materials

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Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Release on Recognizance and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Release on Recognizance or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Release on Recognizance and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Release on Recognizance. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Release on Recognizance should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Release on Recognizance when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

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