Pretrial Release


Scales of justice

Laws Homepage

Use the Pretrial Policy Laws Homepage to find the laws in your state or view 50-state comparison charts to see trends across the nation. You can also find recent enactments from 2012 through 2017, and track pending pretrial legislation.


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Violations and Bail Forfeiture

Defendants charged with a crime can be released before trial through cash bail, bail bond, property bond, or on the person’s own recognizance, provided they agree to return for future court dates and do not commit new crimes. A violation of the release terms may result in bail forfeiture or a new criminal offense. Read more about the purposes of bail and consequences for pretrial release violations.

Results Driven Governing


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Trends in Pretrial Release

Since 2012, every state legislature has addressed pretrial policy, resulting in close to 700 new enactments. Read two reports covering enactments from this time period that have individualized the pretrial process by focusing on specific defendants or offense categories.


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Stay Informed

View and subscribe to NCSL's civil and criminal justice newsletters.


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NCSL Partners

NCSL Pretrial Release partners with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation on pretrial release policies, and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge.


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Pretrial Release Resources

View a variety of resources related to pretrial policy, including release eligibility, conditions of release, bail, commercial bail bonding and pretrial diversion.