What does “flight risk” mean?

The phrase “flight risk” has two meanings – one formal and one informal. The formal meaning of “flight risk” is used in American courts to determine whether or not a defendant (the person being accused of a crime) in a court case would consider running away or flying to another country in order to avoid being found guilty and going to prison. If someone is determined to be a “flight risk” then the bail dollar amount is raised to a very higher dollar value, making it difficult for a person to be bailed out.

Here’s an example of the usage of the formal version of “flight risk”:

“Flight Risk” In a Sentence

Judge to Lawyer/Barrister: "Because the defendant does not seem to 
be a flight risk, I am setting the bail to only $2,000."

The second, informal, meaning of “flight risk” is used to refer to people who are likely to leave or run away from a job or a relationship in order to find a better person or a better job.

Here’s an example of the usage of the informal version of “flight risk”:

Informal use of “Flight Risk” In a Sentence

Jill: "Joe is much more attractive than his girlfriend Sarah."

Jacky: "Yeah, I think Joe is definitely a flight risk - he'll probably find another girlfriend soon."

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