"Supervised Own Recognizance Release" in California criminal cases

Supervised own recognizance release in California is when a defendant in an ongoing criminal case gets released from jail but with conditions. These conditions vary by case, but common ones include:

  • submitting to unannounced alcohol or drug tests;
  • wearing an electronic monitor; or
  • avoiding certain locations and contact with certain people

Pretrial Assessment Services (PAS) may grant supervised own recognizance (OR) release to defendants they consider to be a "medium-risk" of either:

  • hurting someone else, or
  • skipping future court appearances

Medium-risk defendants who do not get supervised OR release remain jail pending the resolution of the case. (Low-risk defendants usually get released on their own recognizance without supervision, while high-risk defendants remain jailed during the case.)

In this article, our Los Angeles California criminal defense attorneys discuss:

probation officer and defendant
California criminal defendants released from jail on supervised OR have to abide by certain conditions to remain out of custody pending the trial.

1. Definition of "supervised own recognizance release" in California

Supervised OR release is when a person who is arrested for a California crime is both:

  1. released from jail pending the trial, and
  2. ordered to abide by extra terms that defendants on regular OR release do not have to abide by

In short, supervised OR release is a middle ground between straight OR and remaining in jail: Although a defendant on supervised OR gets to leave jail, the defendant is also under supervision by a probation officer (P.O.).

The extent of this supervision varies depending on the case. Sometimes it may be as minor as the defendant calling the P.O. once a week to check in. Other times it may include abstaining from alcohol and going to rehab. (Scroll down to section 3 for a fuller explanation of supervisory conditions.)1

2. Defendants eligible for "supervised own recognizance release" in California

Defendants may be released on supervised own recognizance if they are "medium-risk" of either hurting another person or skipping future court appearances. But this is not a sure thing: Some medium-risk defendants will be ordered to remain in jail pending their trial. 

The court's Pretrial Assessment Services (PAS) take various factors into account when determining whether to release a medium-risk defendant, such as:

handcuffs
Medium-risk criminal defendants may or may not get released from jail pending the resolution of the case.
  • the criminal charge(s);
  • any criminal history;
  • any missed court appearances within the last three (3) years or other relevant information regarding the defendant's chances of showing up to court;
  • any relevant information pertaining to the defendant's risk to public safety;
  • information relevant to the defendant's custody status; and
  • relevant information provided by the police, victim (if any), prosecution, and defense attorneys

Each newly arrested defendant in California gets a pretrial risk assessment that ranks him/her as low-, medium-, or high-risk or endangering public safety or failing to appear at court. Low-risk defendants are generally released on their own recognizance without supervision. And high-risk defendants are detained in jail pending the trial.2

3. Types of "supervised own recognizance release" in California

Common conditions that defendants have to abide by if they are placed on supervised OR release include the following:

  • Residing at a residence approved by the Probation Department's Pretrial Services Unit, and giving written notice to the P.O. at least 24 hours before moving to another residence that is approved by Pretrial Services.
  • Reporting any contacts with the police to Pretrial Services within 48 hours.
  • Staying home between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. (unless the P.O. gives permission otherwise).
  • Following all reasonable orders by the P.O.
  • Abstaining from possessing or using any drugs unless medically prescribed, and reporting prescribed usage to the P.O.
  • Abstaining from alcohol or going to package stores or bars.
  • Submitting to a blood, breath, saliva or urine test as requested by the P.O. or police to check for alcohol or drugs in the body.
  • Attending rehab as approved by the P.O., and authorizing the release of progress reports to the P.O.
  • Wearing a California SCRAM alcohol-detection bracelet, including paying all the associated fees.
  • Having no contact with certain people, such as the alleged victim in the case.
  • Avoiding certain locations, such as the alleged victim's home.
  • Allowing the P.O. or police to conduct searches and seizures of the defendant's property even if there is no probable cause that a crime occurred.
  • Wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet.
  • Checking in with Pretrial Services by phone once a week and following every court appearance.

Every defendant gets their own set of conditions based on the circumstances of the case. Note that there are some conditions that all defendants on OR release need to abide by even if there is no supervision. These include:

ankle monitor
Electronic monitoring is a possible condition of supervised OR release in California.
  • Appearing at every required court hearing;
  • Not leaving California without the court's permission;
  • Waiving extradition if the defendant misses court and is arrested outside California; and
  • Obeying all court orders

If the defendant violates any of these terms, the court has the discretion to revoke a person's OR release and order him/her to jail pending the trial.3

4. Preventive Detention Hearings in California

If the prosecution objects to a defendant getting supervised OR-release, the prosecution will ask the court to hold a California preventive detention hearing. At this hearing, the prosecution can argue that the defendant should remain in jail, and the defense attorney can argue that supervised OR release is appropriate.

If the prosecution requests a preventive detention hearing, the defendant will remain jailed pending the outcome of the hearing. These proceedings typically occur within three (3) days of the prosecution requesting the hearing.

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Legal References

  1. California Penal Code 1320.7(j) PC ("'Supervised own recognizance release' means the pretrial release of an arrested person who promises in writing, but without posting money or a secured bond, to appear in court as required, and upon whom the court or Pretrial Assessment Services imposes specified conditions of release."); see California Senate Bill 10 (2018).
  2. California Penal Code 1320.10 PC.
  3. See id.
  4. California Penal Code 1320.18. PC.

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