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“RCW 10.19.090 is a crucial legal statute in Washington State’s criminal procedure laws. This article provides an in-depth look at its role in governing the forfeiture and exoneration of recognizances in criminal cases. Recognizance, in this legal context, signifies a binding commitment made by an individual – be it a defendant or a witness – to appear in court when required.”

Key Provisions Explained:

  • Forfeiture of Recognizance
    • What Happens When Someone Fails to Appear in Court?
    • When an individual released on recognizance doesn’t show up in court, it results in what’s known as a default. In response, the court will declare the recognizance forfeited. This action holds both the principal (the person in question) and their sureties (those guaranteeing their appearance) accountable.
  • Judgment and Execution
    • Legal Consequences of Forfeiture
    • Once the recognizance is forfeited, the court has the authority to issue a judgment against both the principal and their sureties for the stated amount. This is followed by an execution process, similar to other court judgments, to enforce this decision.
  • Exoneration Condition
    • Protection for Sureties
    • RCW 10.19.090 includes a critical safeguard for sureties. Should the court fail to notify them in writing about the defendant’s unexplained failure to appear within thirty days of the due date, the forfeiture becomes void, thus exonerating the recognizance.

The Text of RCW 10.19.090 is:

In criminal cases where a recognizance for the appearance of any person, either as a witness or to appear and answer, shall have been taken and a default entered, the recognizance shall be declared forfeited by the court, and at the time of adjudging such forfeiture said court shall enter judgment against the principal and sureties named in such recognizance for the sum therein mentioned, and execution may issue thereon the same as upon other judgments. If the surety is not notified by the court in writing of the unexplained failure of the defendant to appear within thirty days of the date for appearance, then the forfeiture shall be null and void and the recognizance exonerated.

You can find the text of RCW 10.19.090 at:


“RCW 10.19.090 plays a vital role in ensuring accountability for those released on recognizance in Washington State’s criminal justice system. It balances this by protecting the rights of sureties, mandating the court to provide timely updates on any defaults. This statute is an essential component of the bail and bond processes in criminal proceedings in Washington.”

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About Blanford Law:

We are no-nonsense, relentless, fair, and honest. We are great listeners instead of fast talkers, that is just who we are. More than 20 years ago, Ken began practicing law with a deeply-seeded belief that every person has the right to the best legal representation available. He built his law firm on that belief. Another belief that he strongly adheres to is his fundamental belief that clients deserve respect, with no assumptions or preconceived notions.  If you or someone you know is accused of a crime or injured as a result of the negligence of another, please have them call us at 253-720-9304 or email us