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In some
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omnipresen ...
nations, a recognizance is a conditional pledge of money undertaken by a person before a court which, if the person defaults, the person or their
sureties In finance, a surety , surety bond or guaranty involves a promise by one party to assume responsibility for the debt obligation of a borrower if that borrower defaults. Usually, a surety bond or surety is a promise by a surety or guarantor to pay ...
will forfeit that sum. It is an
obligation An obligation is a course of action that someone is required to take, whether legal or moral. Obligations are constraints; they limit freedom. People who are under obligations may choose to freely act under obligations. Obligation exists when ther ...
of record, entered into before a court or magistrate duly authorized, whereby the party bound acknowledges (recognizes) that they owe a personal debt to the state. A recognizance is subject to a " defeasance"; that is, the obligation will be avoided if person bound does some particular act, such as appearing in court on a particular day, or keeping the peace. In criminal cases the concept is used both as a form of
bail Bail is a set of pre-trial restrictions that are imposed on a suspect to ensure that they will not hamper the judicial process. Bail is the conditional release of a defendant with the promise to appear in court when required. In some countries ...
when a person has been charged but not tried and also when a person has been found guilty at trial as an incentive not to commit further misconduct. The concept of a recognizance exists in
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country b ...
,
Canada Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over , making it the world's second-largest country by tot ...
,
Hong Kong Hong Kong ( (US) or (UK); , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (abbr. Hong Kong SAR or HKSAR), is a city and special administrative region of China on the eastern Pearl River Delta i ...
, the
Republic of Ireland Ireland ( ga, √Čire ), also known as the Republic of Ireland (), is a country in north-western Europe consisting of 26 of the 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The capital and largest city is Dublin, on the eastern side of the island. ...
,
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a Anglo-Scottish border, border with England to the southeast ...
, and the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territorie ...
. Recognizances were frequently used by courts of quarter sessions, for example they make up more than 70% of surviving records for the
Bedfordshire Bedfordshire (; abbreviated Beds) is a ceremonial county in the East of England. The county has been administered by three unitary authorities, Borough of Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Borough of Luton, since Bedfordshire County Council w ...
Quarter Sessions records.


Bail

A recognizance is a form of bail, in which an accused is released from
pre-trial detention Remand, also known as pre-trial detention, preventive detention, or provisional detention, is the process of detaining a person until their trial after they have been arrested and charged with an offence. A person who is on remand is held i ...
with an incentive to ensure that they will appear before the court to face charges on a certain day in the future. A person may be required to provide sureties, being another person who will guarantee the attendance of the accused and agree to forfeit the amount if they don't. If a person is not required to provide a surety, are released "on their own recognizance". Release on recognizance is sometimes abbreviated as ''RoR'', ''OR'' (''own recognizance'', particularly in the United States), or ''PR'' (''personal recognizance''). A recognizance is different from a bail bond in that it is a pledge of money and no upfront payment of a cash deposit is required. Historically recognizances were also used by courts of quarter sessions to require a person to attend court and give evidence.


As an incentive not to commit further misconduct

Where a person has been found guilty at trial, a court may release the defendant on their own recognizance, as an incentive for the person not to commit further offences. In 1733 John Harper was released from Bridewell on his own recognizance. They were used by courts of quarter sessions to keep the peace and for people to be of good behaviour, with the person required to attend the quarter sessions once every year until tensions had cooled. They continue to be used for this purpose in Australia, with the federal ''Crimes Act'' providing that the court can discharge the person with or without sureties, by recognizance or otherwise. The discharge can include conditions such as to be of good behaviour or to pay compensation. A recognizance release order may involve the immediate release of the person into the community or after serving a specified period of time. Discharge of offenders without proceeding to conviction. Conditional release of offenders after conviction. For example the
New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal The New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal, part of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, is the highest court for criminal matters and has appellate jurisdiction in the Australian State of New South Wales. Jurisdiction The Court hears appea ...
upheld the sentence imposed on John Khoo for insider trading offences that he be imprisoned for 1 year and 11 months, but be released after 14 months on entering a recognisance to be of good behaviour.


References

{{reflist Law of Hong Kong Irish law Law of Australia Law of Canada Law of the United States Scots law legal terminology Law of obligations Oaths