A flight risk is any individual who is deemed likely to flee the country to avoid criminal prosecution.

For example, a wealthy individual who’s committed financial fraud would likely be considered a flight risk because this person would have both the incentive and the means to leave the country to avoid prosecution.

A judge uses multiple criteria, including the individual’s financial status, employment history, and ties to the local community, to assess whether they’re a flight risk.

People who are declared flight risks can still travel both domestically and internationally, but only if certain conditions are met.

What is a Flight Risk?

A flight risk is any person who’s considered likely to flee to avoid arrest or other legal action.

For example, a person who’s committed financial fraud worth millions of dollars is considered a flight risk because they’ll likely attempt to flee the country to avoid arrest and prosecution for their crime. 

In some cases, an individual who threatens public or national safety may also be declared a flight risk.

Many factors, including the crime the individual has committed and their previous criminal history, influence whether a person is declared a flight risk. 

How a Judge Determines if Someone is a Flight Risk

A judge evaluates the following factors to determine whether someone is a flight risk. 

  • Family/Community Ties

A person with strong ties to their local community, such as employment, family, and property, is less likely to become a flight risk.

  • Nature of the Crime

A person is more likely to be considered a flight risk if they’ve committed a more serious crime, like financial fraud or murder. 

  • Employment

A judge may look at an individual’s employment status to evaluate whether they’re likely to become a flight risk.

A person with a stable employment history is seen as less likely to become a flight risk, since they’d lose their stable income. 

  • Prior Criminal History

A person with a past history of failing to appear in court or violating other legal conditions is more likely to be considered a flight risk.

  • Financial Status

A person with more financial resources is considered more likely to become a flight risk.

This is because they have the means to finance an escape from the country and potentially live a comfortable life abroad. 

  • Proven Track Record

A judge may also check an individual’s past travel and legal history to evaluate whether they’re more likely to become a flight risk.

An individual with a negative legal history is more likely to be considered a flight risk.

Flight Risks Can Travel Domestically

Individuals declared flight risks might travel domestically in their own country.

But they may be subject to further conditions, such as staying in a particular geographic area or informing the authorities of their travel plans.

Failure to meet these requirements could result in additional legal action. 

More Restrictions for to Travel Internationally

Individuals declared flight risks may travel internationally, but they’re often subject to restrictions.

For example, they may be required to give up their passport or report to the authorities before traveling internationally.

Violating these regulations will result in the individual facing additional legal penalties, most likely arrest and detention. 

Being a Flight Risk Can Affect the Bail Amount

Being a flight risk can affect the bail amount.

As the purpose of bail is to ensure the individual appears in court, people declared flight risks are often required to post higher bail amounts because they’re considered more likely and capable of fleeing the country.

The higher bail amount serves as an incentive for the individual to appear in court. 

The exact bail that an individual declared a flight risk owes is usually down to the severity of their crime.

If the crime is extremely severe, the individual may not be allowed to post bail at all. 

In conclusion:

  • A flight risk is an individual who is considered likely to flee the country to avoid arrest and prosecution.
  • A judge takes many factors, including the individual’s financial status, past history, ties to the country, and the severity of their crime, to evaluate whether they’re a flight risk.
  • Generally speaking, wealthy people with fewer local ties who’ve committed more severe crimes, like financial fraud, are considered flight risks.
  • These people have both the incentives and the means to leave the country to avoid arrest.
  • Being a flight risk also means that an individual has to pay a higher bail to incentivize them not to flee the country. 

Ella Dunham, a Freelance Travel Journalist and Marketing Manager, boasts an impressive career spanning eight years in the travel and tourism sectors.

Honored as one of "30 Under 30" by TTG Media (the world’s very first weekly travel trade newspaper), a "Tour Operator Travel Guru" and "Legend Award" winner, Ella is also a Fellow of the Institute of Travel, a Member of the Association of Women Travel Executives, has completed over 250 travel modules, and hosts travel-focused segments on national radio shows where she provides insights on travel regulations and destinations.

Ella has visited over 40 countries (with 10 more planned this year).