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In some common law nations, a recognizance is a conditional obligation undertaken by a person before a court. It is an obligation of record, entered into before a court or magistrate duly authorized, whereby the party bound acknowledges (recognizes) that he owes 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. The concept of a recognizance exists in Scotland, Hong Kong, Canada and the United States. People who are released on their own recognizance are subject to appearing before a judge on a certain day in the near future.
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Sometimes called own recognizance. A person who promises to appear in court to answer criminal charges can sometimes be released from jail without having to pay bail. This person is said to be released on his or her personal recognizance.
Courtesy of the 'Lectric Law Library.
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