Pretrial Policy: State Laws                                                                                                              


State legislatures consider and enact laws that address all aspects of pretrial policy, including release and detention, conditions, commercial bail bonding and more. These legislative policies have an important role in providing the framework for fair, efficient and safe pretrial practices.

Pretrial Policies: 50 State Charts

Pretrial Release: State Constitutional Right to Bail
Forty-one states have a state constitutional right to bail. Most states also typically have a constitutional provision mirroring the federal Eighth Amendment prohibition on excessive bail. These provisions establish the release/detention framework, setting legal boundaries for which individuals can be detained and when conditions of release must be set. A summary and chart provide more information on the laws.

Updated: June 2022

Pretrial Detention
Pretrial detention is limited to those charged with the most serious crimes and other specified circumstances such as violating conditions of release, failing to appear or committing a new crime while on pretrial release. A summary and chart provide more information on who is eligible for pretrial detention in every state.

Updated: June 2022

Financial Conditions of Release
Every state currently authorizes courts to order release on cash or other secured bond in at least some cases. Recently, states have started to limit the scope of cases and circumstances in which financial conditions can be used. Illinois is the only state to entirely eliminate financial conditions of release with implementation of the new law slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2023. Other states have limited financial conditions or require courts to complete ability to pay determinations.
Updated: February 2021

Pretrial Release: Legal Presumptions to Guide Courts Making Pretrial Determinations
Most defendants charged with a crime may be released before trial provided, they agree to return for future court dates an can meet other conditions of release set by courts. State constitutions and statutes encourage release, with more than half the states codifying a presumption of release on recognizance. Additionally, nearly half the states have a presumption of release on the least restrictive conditions necessary to ensure appearance or public safety. A summary and chart provide more information on the laws.

Updated: Oct. 2020

Citation in Lieu of Arrest
A citation in lieu of arrest is permitted in most states for certain low-level crimes. A citation is a written order, in lieu of a warrantless arrest, that is issued by a law enforcement officer or other authorized official, requiring a person to appear in a designated court or governmental office at a specified time and date. A summary and interactive map provide more information on state laws.

Updated: March 2019

Pretrial Release Violations & Bail Forfeiture
Violating pretrial release--whether by nonappearance or a conditions violation--may result in bail forfeiture, a separate criminal offense, revocation of bail, or other sanctions. Use the interactive maps on this page to learn which states allow bail forfeiture for a conditions violation, criminalize a defendant’s failure to appear, impose strict liability for bail jumping crimes, and more. A summary, chart and interactive maps provide more information on state laws.

Updated: June 2018

Pretrial Diversion
Diversion programs address factors that contribute to criminal behavior of the accused, called criminogenic needs. A summary and chart provide more information on the laws.

Updated: Sept. 2017

Pretrial Release and the Right to Counsel
Every state constitution guarantees the right to counsel for a person charged with a criminal offense. State laws provide framework for courts that carry out the task of ensuring that defendants are aware of their right to counsel and that counsel is appointed in a reasonable amount of time. A summary and searchable chart provide for information on these laws.

Updated: Sept. 2016

Pretrial Release Conditions
State law provides a framework for judges when setting conditions of pretrial release.  In general, conditions imposed must be related to assuring the appearance of the accused and ensuring safety of victims, witnesses and the public.  A summary and interactive map provide more information on the laws.

Updated: Sept. 2016

Victims' Rights and Protections
Laws in each state provide rights for and services to victims. Most states have laws that specifically address victim interests related to pretrial release. A summary and chart provide more information on the laws.

Updated: May 2015

Bail Bond Agent Licensure
A professional bail agent is a surety who guarantees a defendant’s appearance in court for financial gain. To participate as a bail agent in the commercial bail industry, state law often provides licensure requirements. A summary and chart provide more information on the laws.

Updated: April 2013

Bail Bond Agent Business Practices
To conduct business, bail agents advertise their services, meet with their clients and interact with public officials. For each of these activities, state law provides guidelines that bail agents must comply with in their operation. A summary and chart provide more information on the laws.

Updated: April 2013

Recovery Agents
A recovery agent or “bounty hunter” is a person who is lawfully authorized to apprehend bail fugitives and surrender them to the court. State law provides licensure requirements and other guidelines for bail recovery agents. A summary and chart provide more information on the laws.

Updated: May 2013

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