Being arrested can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. One of the primary concerns for anyone facing jail time is how to secure their release as quickly as possible.

In California, “own recognizance” releases provide an alternative to posting bail for some individuals. This guide will discuss what these releases are, how they work, who may be eligible and how they compare to other methods of securing release from jail.

The 3 Ways You Can Get Out of Jail in California

In California, there are three primary ways to secure your release from jail after an arrest:

  1. Citation: For minor offenses, law enforcement officers may issue a citation instead of making an arrest. This citation will typically include a notice to appear in court on a specific date.
  2. Posting Bail: Bail is a monetary amount set by the court to ensure that the defendant will appear in court as required. The defendant or someone on their behalf can post bail, either by paying the full amount or using a bail bond service.
  3. Own Recognizance Release: In some cases, the court may release a defendant on their own recognizance, meaning they are released without having to post bail. We’ll discuss this in greater detail below.

What Is An ‘Own Recognizance’ Release, and Who Is Eligible?

An own recognizance (O.R.) release is a court order that allows a defendant to be released from custody without posting bail. Instead, the defendant signs an agreement promising to appear in court as required and to comply with any conditions imposed by the court.

Eligibility for an O.R. release depends on several factors, including:

  1. The nature and severity of the offense: Non-violent and less serious offenses are more likely to result in an O.R. release.
  2. The defendant’s criminal history: Individuals with minimal or no prior criminal history are more likely to be granted an O.R. release.
  3. Community ties: Defendants with strong ties to the community, such as stable employment and family connections, may be considered more suitable for an O.R. release.
  4. Risk of flight: If the court believes that the defendant poses a low risk of failing to appear in court, they may be more likely to grant an O.R. release.

How Does The O.R. Process Work in California?

The O.R. process in California typically involves the following steps:

  1. Pretrial Assessment: After an arrest, a pretrial services officer will conduct an assessment to evaluate the defendant’s suitability for an O.R. release. This assessment may include factors such as the defendant’s criminal history, the nature of the charges, and any potential risk to public safety.
  2. Court Hearing: If the pretrial assessment indicates that the defendant may be eligible for an O.R. release, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether to grant the release.
  3. Court Decision: The court will consider the pretrial assessment and any arguments made by the prosecution and defense during the hearing. If the court grants the O.R. release, the defendant will be released upon signing an O.R. release agreement.

What Are Offenses That Require Formal O.R. Release Hearings?

Certain offenses require a formal O.R. release hearing before the court can consider granting an O.R. release. These offenses typically involve more serious crimes or situations where the defendant poses a significant risk to public safety. Examples of offenses requiring a formal O.R. release hearing include:

  1. Domestic violence cases
  2. Stalking
  3. Violent felonies
  4. Sexual assault offenses

Is It Better To Ask For an O.R. Release or Post Bail?

The decision to pursue an O.R. release or post bail depends on the individual’s specific circumstances and the nature of the charges. Here are some factors to consider when deciding between the two options:

  1. Financial considerations: O.R. releases do not require the defendant to post bail, which can be a significant financial advantage, especially for those with limited resources. Bail, on the other hand, can be expensive, and even if a bail bond service is used, a non-refundable fee is typically charged.
  2. Eligibility: If the defendant is unlikely to be granted an O.R. release based on the severity of the charges, their criminal history, or other factors, posting bail might be the only viable option for securing their release.
  3. Speed of release: O.R. releases can take longer to process than posting bail, as they often require a formal hearing and approval by the court. In cases where a quick release is essential, posting bail might be the preferred option.
  4. Conditions of release: O.R. releases may come with conditions imposed by the court, such as mandatory drug testing, counseling, or restrictions on travel. In some cases, a defendant may prefer to post bail and avoid these conditions.

What Is An ‘Own Recognizance’ Release Agreement?

An own recognizance release agreement is a document that the defendant signs when granted an O.R. release. This agreement outlines the conditions of the release, including the requirement to appear in court as scheduled and comply with any additional conditions imposed by the court.

By signing the agreement, the defendant is promising to adhere to these conditions, and failure to do so can result in the court issuing a warrant for their arrest.

If you or a loved one has been arrested in California, it is crucial to secure skilled legal representation as soon as possible. With more than 40 years of experience in criminal defense, Attorney Robert M. Helfend of the Helfend Law Group is rated by SuperLawyers and is a member of the National Trial Lawyers Top 100.

The Helfend Law Group is available 24/7 to provide legal assistance and help you understand your options for securing your release from jail, whether through an own recognizance release, posting bail, or other means.

Call us at 800-834-6434 for a free case review.