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Violating a Release on Recognizance

July 20, 2015

Release on recognizance is an option offered to certain defendants, enabling them to avoid jail time while they wait for their first hearing without being required to post bail. Release on recognizance requires that defendants offer a written promise to the court agreeing to appear in court when ordered and to not engage in any illegal activities. Then, defendants are discharged from jail on the condition that they adhere to certain requirements set by the court.

If a defendant violates those requirements, he or she will be subject to a variety of penalties. If you have been charged with violating the terms of your release, it is important to retain the services of an experienced defense attorney.

Conditions of Release

The Florida Constitution states that, unless an individual has been charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by life in prison, then he or she is entitled to a pretrial release on reasonable conditions. Such conditions are set by the court and may include a restriction on the privilege of traveling outside of the state, or a requirement that the individual check in with a supervising officer. A court may also choose to set a curfew, issue a stay-away order from victims and witnesses, or require rehabilitation classes such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Furthermore, in federal courts, it is a mandatory condition that the defendant refrains from participating in any criminal activity.

Penalties for Violation

If a defendant violates one of the conditions of his or her release, there are a number of potential penalties including:

  • Additional criminal charges
  • The payment of fees
  • Revocation of the release

Additional Charges

If the defendant was released on recognizance after being charged with a traffic violation or other minor crime and then fails to appear after receiving a written summons, then he or she will (in addition to the traffic violation charge) receive a noncriminal traffic infraction. The infraction requires the defendant to pay a fee to the court. For more serious crimes, when a defendant fails to appear when summoned or otherwise violates one of the conditions of his or her release, the defendant can face additional prosecution for contempt charges.


Alternatively, the court may order a modification of the conditions of the release or may impose financial penalties that might require the defendant to forfeit either real or personal property. The court also has the option of freezing the defendant’s assets as a penalty for a failure to appear.

Revocation and Detention

If, after a hearing, the judge finds that there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed a new crime while on release, then the release order can be revoked and a warrant may be issued for the defendant’s arrest.

Serving jail time while waiting for a pretrial hearing can cause serious issues with employment, education, and family relationships. If you have been granted a release on recognizance, then you may be able to sort through these problems. But if you have been released on your own recognizance and have violated the conditions of that release you face a new host of legal problems. Please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free consultation.

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