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Recognizably Responsible: Understanding Own Recognizance

by Theresa Hoffman

When it comes to getting out of jail, there is more than one way. You might be offered bail and then you can pay a sum of money to be released. Not everyone can be offered bail, however, and some people cannot be released regardless of any sum of money paid. The other way to gain release from jail is to be released on your own recognizance. Read on to learn more about this manner of gaining freedom.

Why is a Release So Important?

Obviously, no one enjoys being in jail. Conditions can be dirty, dangerous, and frequently overcrowded. It is this last aspect of the correctional system that usually prompts the offering of bail and of being released on own recognizance (OR). Jails are not meant to hold those accused of crimes indefinitely, but crowded court calendars often mean that defendants wait for months for their cases to come to trial. Regardless of whether or not the conditions inside a jail are good or bad, most people need to work at jobs and attend to family matters instead of waiting in jail. Finally, it is far more difficult for those accused of crimes to work on their own defense from behind bars.

Who Might be Eligible for OR Release?

  1. First-time offenders.
  2. Those accused of minor crimes.
  3. Those with jobs and close ties to the local area.
  4. Those deemed no danger to society.

Own Recognizance Conditions

Some fortunate citizens can skip the bail payment and be released on their own recognizance. That should not be taken as a "get out of jail free" card entirely, however. Those released through OR must obey a long list of rules and then they must appear for any scheduled court dates. The good graces of the justice system that allows OR releases don't usually stretch to wrong-doing after the release. Being arrested under an OR release will probably mean incarceration with no bail offered. When you are offered an OR release, you must pledge that you will do the following:

  • Stay away from any alleged victims of the crime to which you are accused.
  • Stay away from other known convicted criminals.
  • Check in with the court system on a regular basis.
  • If you are from another county or have ties to another country, you might be asked to surrender your passport.
  • Don't break any laws.
  • Finally, you must appear in court for all of your upcoming appearances.

If you have been arrested, waste no time in seeking help from a criminal law attorney. You will need to be released from jail to help plan your defense, be it through bail or with OR, so speak to a criminal defense attorney to learn how.