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Many Factors Determine Whether a Person Can Be Released on His Own Recognizance

Jeff Cole
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan & Cole

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10/9/2015
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If a person is released on his own recognizance, he is being released from jail on the promise that he will return to all future court dates without having to pay any bail. Often he must sign a written agreement to this effect, and the judge could set additional conditions, such as meeting with the probation officer monthly.

When Would a Judge Allow a Person to Leave Jail Without Paying Bail?

A judge would consider many factors in deciding whether a person would be released from jail without posting a bond. In South Dakota, a judge or magistrate considers the following in making this decision:

  • Nature of the offense. If a person is charged with a non-violent and less serious crime, such as shoplifting, traffic violations, technical violations, or it is his first offense, the judge may be more likely to release him on his own recognizance.
  • The weight of the evidence against the person. A person may be required to pay bail to be released if strong evidence points to the person’s guilt, and the crime is more serious.
  • The person’s background. The judge would consider the person’s family ties, his employment history, and how long he has lived in the community in deciding if it is safe to release him on his word.
  • The person’s financial resources. If a person is indigent and cannot afford an attorney, the judge could consider the fact that he could not afford bail in deciding to release him.
  • The person’s criminal record. If a person has been convicted of crimes multiple times, failed to attend hearings in the past, or is a flight risk, it is unlikely that he would be released from jail without at least posting bail.  
  • The person is a danger to the community. If the person poses a danger to a person, such as the victim of the crime, or the community, it is unlikely that he would be released even by paying bail.

If you have been charged with a crime and want to be released on your own recognizance, having a criminal defense attorney attend your hearing on the request could be extremely helpful. Call us at 888-733-2992 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.



Category: Criminal Defense

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