Legal Presumptions to Guide Courts Making Pretrial Determinations                                                                                                                           

In United States v. Salerno (1987), Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote, “In our society liberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception.” Most defendants charged with a crime may be released before trial provided they agree to return for future court dates and can meet other conditions of release.

Presumption of Release on RecognizanceState constitutions and statutes in many states help to ensure that “liberty is the norm” by codifying legal presumptions favoring release, including release on recognizance or unsecured bond. Additional presumptions go further and specify that release should occur using the least restrictive conditions necessary to ensure appearance and, in some instances, public safety.

More than half the states have codified a presumption of release on recognizance or non-monetary conditions for some, if not all, defendants who are eligible for bail. In a minority of states with this presumption, it is limited to misdemeanor cases.

Nearly half the states and Washington, D.C. have laws that expressly require courts to impose the least restrictive conditions necessary to ensure the appearance of the defendant and/or public safety. In a handful of states where this presumption is not codified, courts are required to first consider release on recognizance or unsecured appearance bond. Then, if the court determines that either method is insufficient to ensure appearance or public safety, other statutory release conditions may be considered. The provisions for least restrictive conditions require individualizing the pretrial process but are also an express codification of legal concepts that transcend statutory language in every state.

Presumption of Least Restrictive Conditions of Release

Presumptions of Release and Least Restrictive Conditions
State Presumption of release generally in constitution Presumption of release generally in statute Presumption of ROR or unsecured bond Presumption or requirement of least restrictive conditions of release
Alabama Const. Art. 1 § 16 § 15-13-108    
Alaska Const. Art. I §11 § 12.30.011 § 12.30.011 § 12.30.011
Arizona Const. Art. II §22 § 13-3967    
Arkansas Cont. Art. 2 § 8      
California Const. Art. I § 12 § 1271 § 1270
*For Misdemeanors
§ 1320.10
Colorado Const. Art. II § 19 § 16-4-101 § 16-4-113
*For Class 3 Misdemeanors and Petty Offenses
§ 16-4-103
Connecticut Const. Art. 1 § 8     § 54-63b et seq.
*For defendants not released by law enforcement or who are unable to meet required financial conditions
Delaware Const. Art. I § 12   11 Del. C. §2105  
District of Columbia     >§ 23-1321 § 23-1321
Florida Const. Art. I § 14   § 907.041
(Presumption of non-monetary conditions)
§ 907.041
Georgia   §§ 17-6-1 & 17-6-13   § 17-6-1
*For Misdemeanors
Hawaii   § 804-3   § 804-4
Idaho Const. Art. I § 6 § 19-2902 & § 19-2903    
Illinois Const. Art. I § 9 725 ILCS 5/110-4 725 ILCS 5/110-5
(Presumption of non-monetary conditions)
725 ILCS 5/110-5
Indiana Const. Art. 1 § 17 § 35-33-8-2    
Iowa Const. Art. I § 12 § 811.1 § 811.2 § 811.2
(Must impose conditions as outlined)
Kansas Const. B. of R. § 9 §§ 22-2802    
Kentucky Const. § 16   § 431.520  
Louisiana Const. Art. I § 18 C. Cr. P. Art. 312    
Maine   15 § 1003 15 § 1026 15 § 1026
Maryland        
Massachusetts   276 § 58 & § 58A 276 § 58 & § 58A 276 § 58 & § 58A
Michigan Const. Art. I § 15 § 765.6    
Minnesota Const. Art. I § 7   § 629.715 § 629.53
(Must impose conditions as outlined)
Mississippi Const. Art. 3 § 29      
Missouri Const. Art. I § 20 § 544.455 § 544.455  
Montana Const. Art. II § 21 § 46-9-102   § 46-9-108
Nebraska Const. Art. I § 9 § 29-901 § 29-901 § 29-901
Nevada Const. Art. 1 § 7 § 178.484    
New Hampshire   597:1 597:2  
New Jersey Const. Art. I Para. 11   § 2A:162-16 & § 2A:162-17 § 2A:162-16 &
§ 2A:162-17
New Mexico Const. Art. II § 13 § 5-401
(Authorized by § 38-1-3)
§ 5-401
(Authorized by § 38-1-3)
§ 5-401
(Authorized by § 38-1-3)
New York   CPL § 510.10 CPL § 510.10 CPL § 510.10
North Carolina       § 15A-534
North Dakota Const. Art. I § 11   Crim. P. Rule 46  
Ohio Const. Art. I § 9      
Oklahoma Const. Art. II § 8 22 § 1101    
Oregon Const. Art. I § 14   § 135.245 § 135.245
Pennsylvania Const Art. I § 14 42 § 5701    
Rhode Island Const. Art. I § 9 § 12-13-1   § 12-13-1.3
South Carolina Const. Art. I § 15   § 17-15-10  
South Dakota Const. Art. VI § 8   § 23A-43-2 § 23A-43-3
(Must impose conditions as outlined)
Tennessee Const. Art. I § 15 § 40-11-102   § 40-11-116
Texas Const. Art. I § 11   Crim. Proc. Art. § 17.03  
Utah Const. Art. I § 8 § 77-20-1 § 77-20-1 § 77-20-1
Vermont Const. § 40   13 § 7554 13 § 7554
Virginia   § 19.2-120    
Washington Const. Art. I § 20   CRR 3.2 CRR 3.2
West Virginia   § 62-1C-1    
Wisconsin Const. Art. I § 8 § 969.01    
Wyoming Const. Art. 1 § 14 § 7-10-101 Cr. P. Rule 46.1
(Authorized by § 7-10-102)
Cr. P. Rule 46.1
(Authorized by§ 7-10-102)

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, 2020

Court rule and case law provide further guidance to courts for setting conditions of release. Court rule is not included in this chart unless a statute authorizes or is superseded by the rules and case law is not included.

Additional NCSL Resources