Last updated 4 July 2016

A recognizance (or bond) is a promise entered into and recorded before a court. An offender may promise to appear in court when called upon to do so, pay a certain amount of money, keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a specified period.

The Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld) (Penalties and Sentences Act) allows the imposition of recognizances for property-related offences (s 23), and general and fixed-period recognizances for other offences (ss 30–32).

Recognizances for property-related offences

When an offender has been convicted of a property-related offence, a court may adjourn the sentencing of the offender for not more than six months and release the offender upon a recognizance. To obtain release, the offender may be required to provide a surety and must agree to reappear before the court to be sentenced at the time and place specified in the order or at an earlier time (s 24 Penalties and Sentences Act). A surety is a person who agrees to provide an amount or forfeit a sum of money or property if the offender does not attend court when required.

The offender might have to reappear at an earlier time if, for example, the court wishes to see what steps the offender has taken to restore, reinstate or provide compensation for the victim’s property (s 25 Penalties and Sentences Act). If the court makes this order, it cannot record a conviction (s 22 Penalties and Sentences Act).

The recognizance terminates if the offender is called upon to appear at an earlier time or when the offender appears at the time specified in the order (s 28 Penalties and Sentences Act). In sentencing the offender, the court may have regard to the steps (if any) the offender has taken in relation to the aggrieved person’s property.

If the offender fails to appear at the time specified in the order or at an earlier time, the recognizance may be forfeited and a warrant issued for the offender’s arrest. Upon apprehension, the court may sentence the offender or make any other order that the court could have made and may record a conviction against the offender (s 27 Penalties and Sentences Act).

Fixed-period recognizance

An offender convicted by a magistrate may be released on a recognizance with or without sureties, on the condition that the offender keeps the peace and is of good behaviour for a period (which must not exceed one year) fixed by the court (s 31 Penalties and Sentences Act).

If the offender is convicted on indictment (i.e. by the District Court or Supreme Court), the same type of order may be made in addition to, or instead of, any other sentence (s 30 Penalties and Sentences Act). If an order for a recognizance is made by the District or Supreme Court, the period during which the offender must keep the peace and be of good behaviour can exceed one year. An offender may be imprisoned until they enter into this type of recognizance.

General recognizance

Any court may release an offender if the offender enters into a recognizance (with or without sureties) on the conditions that the offender must:

  • appear before the court to be sentenced at a future sitting of the court or, if called on, within a period stated by the court
  • keep the peace and be of good behaviour in the meantime (s 32 Penalties and Sentences Act).

A conviction may or may not be recorded if these orders are made (s 29 Penalties and Sentences Act), and a court must not deal with an offender in this way if the court is of the opinion that it is appropriate to release the offender on probation.