Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Mainprize Definition:

The taking of a person into friendly custody.

Related Terms: Bail

From the French for main and pris; taken by the hand.

Also spelled as mainprise.

Taylor defines mainprize as:

"The taking or receiving of a person into friendly custody who might otherwise be committed to prison, upon security given that he shall be forthcoming at a time and place assigned."

mainprizeFor centuries, mainprize existed as an alternate to bail:

"At one time there was an alternative procedure known as mainprize, which has now fallen into disuse, no doubt because it was less effective to secure the attendance of the prisoner at his trial, in that mainperors (as opposed to bail) had no power themselves to take him into custody to ensure his appearance."1

Williams adds:

"And there is the difference between mainprise and bail: he that is mainprised is said to be at large, after the day he is set to mainprise, until the day of his appearance.

"Bu where a man is let to bail by a judge, etc. until a certain day, there he is always accounted by the law to be in their ward for the time.

"And they may, if they will, keep him in prison, so that he that is so bailed shall not be at large or at his own liberty."


  • NOTE 1: Anonymous, Some Notes on Bail, 2 J. Crim. L. 316 (1938)
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Duhaime's Legal Dictionary
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Duhaime's Legal Citations & Abbreviations
  • Tayler, Thomas, The Law Glossary (New York: Baker, Voorhis & Co., 1877)
  • Williams, Thomas Walter, A Compedious and Comprehensive Law Dictionary; Elucidating the Terms and General Principles of Law & Equity (London: Gale & Fennett, 1816)

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