'Own Recognizance' Release

While out of jail, a defendant is still considered in custody because their release is typically attached to home detention, and their movements are monitored and restricted. Preapproval is required for travel outside certain ranges unless a defendant attends a court hearing.

After a criminal suspect completes the arrest and booking procedure, the next step is to request a pretrial release. One option is for the court to release you on your own recognizance (also known as ROR or OR). No bail amount is paid to the court, and no bond is posted. After arraignment, the suspect is merely released after providing a written promise to make all future court appearances.

Each state has its own criminal procedures defining pretrial release conditions. Whether you are facing charges for misdemeanor shoplifting or a violent felony, you're entitled to a bail hearing. Your release will depend on your jurisdiction's criminal laws.

Factors and Conditions of 'Own Recognizance' Release

Most state criminal courts impose certain conditions on OR release. One example is prohibiting the suspect from leaving the area while criminal charges are pending to ensure attendance in future court dates.

As with setting bail, when deciding whether to release a suspect on their own recognizance, a criminal court judge considers:

  • The severity of the criminal offense
  • The suspect's criminal history
  • The danger posed to the public upon a suspect's release
  • The suspect's ties to family members, community, and employment (i.e., potential flight risk)

Suppose a suspect released on their own recognizance fails to appear in criminal court as scheduled. In that case, a bench warrant will likely be issued. They're subject to immediate arrest, and any chance of posting bail is likely eliminated.

Additional Conditions of OR Release

Most courts impose additional conditions on defendants in exchange for releasing them on their own recognizance. There is a nexus between the condition and the crime charged.

For example, multiple DUI offenders are often required to do things like:

  • Surrender their vehicle
  • Attend alcohol treatment classes

Someone facing a domestic violence charge might need to enroll in domestic violence education or anger management classes. Other defendants may be required to:

  • Surrender their passport
  • Agree not to associate with known gang members or convicted felons

Not every case will involve all of these conditions. Judges must require conditions that are reasonably related to the circumstances of the case and the crime charged.

Drug Rehab as a Condition of Release

Drug addiction and drug sales constitute a majority of the arrests and criminal case docket. One national study of the criminal justice system suggests that 85% of incarcerated offenders have an active substance use disorder or face imprisonment for drugs or drug-use crimes.

In light of this issue, OR release and supervised pretrial release programs often require immediate enrollment in an inpatient or outpatient drug treatment program.

Cash Bail Reform: A Look at California

Like many states, California has a long history of bail reform. In 2018, it became the first state to eliminate cash bail with the California Money Bail Reform Act. California Penal Code Section 1270 entitles defendants arrested for misdemeanors to be released on personal recognizance unless the judge finds that release will compromise public safety or will not reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant.

For felony offenses, the probation department conducts an impartial investigation and submits a report and recommendation to the court after:

  • Interviewing the defendant
  • Completing a criminal background check
  • Verifying the defendant's references
  • Conducting a risk assessment to determine release suitability
  • Contacting the arresting law enforcement agency for additional comments

Electronic monitoring is another alternative considered at a bail hearing in Los Angeles County and many jurisdictions. In many states, instead of posting a bail bond set by the bail schedule, defendants with felony charges or misdemeanors may argue for pretrial release on electronic home monitoring (EHM).

Get a Criminal Defense Lawyer to Help You Get Released on Your Own Recognizance

A criminal suspect under arrest benefits from representation by an attorney because they can argue for mitigating factors that support their release to the court, such as:

  • Strong community ties
  • Primary income generator for loved ones
  • No prior failures to appear

Even if you're under arrest for a serious felony, you should contact a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your options for pretrial release.

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