A personal bond, which is also called personal recognizance and own recognizance, is a written contract in which a person who has been arrested agrees to appear at all required court dates and promises to abstain from breaking the law while the personal bond is in force. Once the contract is signed, payment of bail is waived, and the arrested person is released from jail.
Setting the Bond Amount
Despite being released without the requirement to pay bail, a bail amount is set for the defendant as part of the promise to be present at all required court hearings. Most police stations have a schedule of bail amounts for common crimes to facilitate the release of defendants who may qualify for a personal bond without waiting to see a judge. The contract for a personal bond includes a provision that the defendant is responsible for paying the full amount of the bail for failing to appear at court when required.
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Additional Conditions for Personal Bonds
There may be additional conditions for release, including following the terms set forth in restraining orders, obeying a curfew, attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, going into rehab and obeying all laws. The failure to comply with the conditions for release can result in the personal bond being canceled, the defendant being arrested and ordered to pay the bail amount and the accused being sent back to jail.
Granting a Personal Bond
The decision to grant a personal bond is based on several conditions, including the severity of the offense, a prior arrest record, employment history, the number of years spent in the community and the presence of family nearby. If the defendant has a record of previous arrests, an added consideration will be whether he appeared at all required court dates. A personal bond could be approved, for example, for a defendant who's arrested for a first-time misdemeanor charge and poses a minimal flight risk.
Vacating a Personal Bond
If the defendant attends all required court hearings and meets all of the conditions set for her release, the personal bond will be vacated when the case is closed. Under these circumstances, the bond is vacated whether the defendant is found innocent or guilty.
The primary purpose of bail, even when it is waived as part of a release under a personal bond, is to ensure that the defendant appears in court when ordered to do so. The finding of guilt or innocence does not affect how bail is handled.