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 the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Canada and the United States.

Recognizances are most often encountered regarding bail in criminal cases. By filing a bail bond with the court, the defendant will usually be released from imprisonment pending a trial or appeal. If no bail has been set, the defendants are released "on their own recognizance". Release on recognizance is sometimes abbreviated as RoR, or, particularly in the United States, OR.


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  • recognizance — re·cog·ni·zance /ri käg nə zəns/ n [Anglo French recognisance reconisance, literally, recognition, from Old French reconoisance, from reconoistre to recognize, from Latin recognoscere] 1: an obligation entered into on the record before a court or …   Law dictionary

  • recognizance — re‧cog‧ni‧zance [rɪˈkɒgnɪzns ǁ ˈkɑːg ] also recognisance noun [countable] LAW a promise that someone makes in a court of law. If they do not keep this promise, they have to pay money to the court: • The two men were released on their own… …   Financial and business terms

  • Recognizance — Re*cog ni*zance (r[ e]*k[o^]g n[i^]*zans or r[ e]*k[o^]n [i^] ), n. [F. reconnaissance, OF. recognoissance, fr. recognoissant, p. pr. of recognoistre to recognize, F. reconna[^i]tre, fr. L. recognoscere; pref. re re + cognoscere to know. See… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • recognizance — late 14c., reconyssaunce, from O.Fr. reconissance acknowledgment, recognition (Fr. reconnaissance), from prp. stem of reconoistre (see RECOGNIZE (Cf. recognize)). Related: Recognizant …   Etymology dictionary

  • recognizance — (Amer.) re·cog·ni·zance || rɪ kÉ‘gnɪzÉ™ns /rɪ kÉ’g n. (Law, Finance) legal promise or obligation; formal agreement made by a person in court before a judge; money pledged as a bond (also recognisance) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • recognizance — [ri käg′ni zəns, rikän′izəns] n. [ME reconissance < OFr reconaissance < reconnoisant, prp. of reconoistre < L recognoscere, to recall to mind < re , again + cognoscere, to know: see COGNITION] 1. Law a) an obligation of record entered …   English World dictionary

  • recognizance — /ri kog neuh zeuhns, kon euh /, n. 1. Law. a. a bond or obligation of record entered into before a court of record or a magistrate, binding a person to do a particular act. b. the sum pledged as surety on such a bond. 2. Archaic. recognition. 3.… …   Universalium

  • recognizance — n. (legal) on one s own recognizance (she was released on her own recognizance) * * * [rɪ kɒgnɪz(ə)ns] (legal) on one s own recognizance (she was released on her own recognizance) …   Combinatory dictionary

  • recognizance — /rskognazans/ An obligation entered into before a court or magistrate duly authorized for that purpose whereby the recognizer acknowledges that he will do some act required by law which is specified therein. The act of recognizing is performed by …   Black's law dictionary

  • recognizance — noun Etymology: Middle English recognissance, alteration of reconissaunce, from Anglo French, from reconoistre to recognize Date: 14th century 1. a. an obligation of record entered into before a court or magistrate requiring the performance of an …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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