[ri-kog-nuh-zuhns, -kon-uh-]

In law, obligation entered into before a court or magistrate requiring the performance of an act (e.g., appearance in court), usually under penalty of a money forfeiture. The most common use of recognizance is in connection with bail in criminal cases. The accused may also be released on his “own recognizance” when no bail is required.

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In British, Canadian and American law, the term recognizance is usually employed to describe an obligation of record, entered into before some court or magistrate duly authorized, whereby the party bound acknowledges (recognizes) that s/he owes a personal debt to the government or Crown, with a defeasance, i.e. subject to a condition that the obligation to pay shall be avoided if he shall do some particular act, as if s/he shall appear at the assizes, keep the peace, or the like.

Recognizance is most often encountered regarding bail in criminal cases. By filing a bail bond with the court, the defendants will usually be released from imprisonment pending a trial or appeal. If no bail has been set, the defendants are released "on their own recognizance." Release on recognizance is sometimes called RoR, or, particularly in the United States, OR.


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