If you have been arrested for a crime, sitting in jail awaiting your trial can impede your ability to fight your case, stay positive, and work. With overcrowded jails and lengthy court dates, New York State provides bail options for many different types of crimes.
Below, the professionals at The Law Offices of Michael H. Ricca P.C. help explain how to make bail in New York State, as well as some important up and coming bail reforms you want to know about.
HOW BAIL WORKS: THE FIRST 24 HOURS AFTER YOUR ARREST
After an arrest, you will likely be taken to the local police station. After being fingerprinted and having your full criminal record pulled, you may be issued an appearance ticket and released. This ticket will provide you with the date and time of your next hearing. Failure to attend the next court will likely result in a warrant for your arrest. Do not take these appearance tickets lightly!
However, not everyone is issued an appearance ticket. Individuals charged with a crime, who are not issued an appearance ticket, typically see a judge within 24 hours. This is known as your initial arraignment and is where the judge will decide happens to you next. There are a number of different options a judge has in response to the charges being filed against the defendant. These include:
- Release: At this initial arraignment, the judge has the option to release you on your own recognizance. That means that you will be released, with the faith that you will return for all hearings and court appearances related to your charges. This is the most lenient option you may face.
- Detained: In some cases, the judge may decide you shall remain in jail awaiting your trial. This is often the case if the judge feels the prosecution has proven that you are a flight risk or due to the severity of the charges brought against you (ex. You are charged with a violent felony). Being detained is the severest option.
- Bail: Bail acts as a middle ground between release and detainment. When a judge issues a bail ruling, you can be released once your financial security has been received. Failure to abide by the terms of your bail, however, will result in you being rearrested and jailed while awaiting your trial; you will also lose your financial security should you fail to abide by the bail terms.
BAIL OPTIONS IN NEW YORK
There are nine types of bail options at the discretion of the judge. These are:
- Cash Bail;
- Insurance Company Bond;
- Secured Surety Bond;
- Secured Appearance Bond;
- Partially Secured Surety Bond;
- Partially Secured Appearance Bond;
- Unsecured Surety Bond;
- Unsecured Appearance Bond; and/or
- Credit Card.
You should note that, under current New York State laws, at least two forms of bail should be available to a defendant should the judge agree to this option.
Bail vs. Bond
The most common types of bail chosen by judges are cash bails and insurance company bonds. While both options are available to you, the cash bail amount is often much less than that of the insurance company bond.
Both bail and bond amounts act as a type of insurance policy for the courts. If you abide by the terms of your bail, you will receive your bail money back at the conclusion of your trial. If you are found guilty, 3% of your bail will be kept by the courts. If you are found innocent, the full amount will be returned.
Bonds are slightly different. You will have to find a reputable, licensed bail bondsman in order to post a bond. Many bondsmen accept much less than 100% of the required bond amount. For example, you may only need to make a $1,200 deposit to the bondsman on a $12,000 bond. However, unlike bail, this money will not be returned to you. Most bondman keep this initial deposit as your payment for the bond. If the terms of the bond are not met and the courts do not return this money to the bondsman, you may be required to pay the remaining balance on the bond amount.
PAYING YOUR BAIL IN NEW YORK
After the judge decides if you are eligible for bail and explains which options are available to you, you must pay this amount prior to your release. If you cannot pay the required amount, you will be held in jail until you can afford to pay the required bail or your trial date arrives.
Whether you have secured a bail or bond option, New York State offers two ways to make your payment: in person or online. Cash, cashier’s checks, money orders, or a credit/debit card are all acceptable means of posting bail. You should note that personal checks are not accepted. If you opt to pay in person, bail is accepted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at several different detention centers. If posting bail for someone else, you will need to bring your identification, as well as his or her name and case or booking number.
In the case of a bond, a licensed bail bondsman will need to make the payment arrangements after securing your deposit.
In 2017, roughly 33,000 individuals charged with a crime could not post the required bail amount due to their inability to afford the amount. In early April 2019, the New York State legislation officially recognized this. In response, they have enacted laws that will eliminate cash bail for almost all misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses. In fact, in most of these cases, an appearance ticket will be issued instead of awaiting a hearing with a judge.
A controversial decision, this reform will take effect in January 2020.
THE LAW OFFICES OF MICHAEL H. RICCA P.C.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a crime, The Law Offices of Michael H. Ricca P.C. is here to help. As a law firm who truly understands the consequences of incarceration and convictions, we strive to help secure you the best outcome possible based on the specific facts and circumstances of your individual case.
Being unable to afford bail or secure a bond can be another devastating blow for anyone facing criminal charges in New York State. As a result of our many years of experience, we can help you secure the lowest bail or bond amounts possible. If the initial bail amount was too high, we will fight for a review based on your circumstances.
Finding the right lawyer for your case can be difficult; that is why we offer free legal consultations. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact The Law Offices of Michael H. Ricca P.C. today at (516) 500-1647.