After a defendant is arrested and is arraigned, a judge may decide to set bail. When bail is set the judge is basically allowing the defendant to be released from custody as long as money or property is given to the court as a guarantee to induce the defendant to come back to court for future court dates. The bail money and or property are generally returned to the defendant upon conclusion of the case if the defendant follows all the prescribed court guidelines. However, if a defendant is convicted, a percentage of the bail is kept by the court. Please note that bail is a complex issue and that there are many factors that come into play such as whether the case is a state or federal case. Please read on for more New York bail information.
Bail is usually set at the arraignment hearing and the judge is the person who decides whether bail will be set and what the bail amount will be. If bail is set, the defendant will be held in custody until bail is posted. In deciding whether to set bail and how much the bail amount will be, the judge will weigh a number of factors and look at the circumstances surrounding the criminal charges. Some factors are:
– Was the criminal charge one of a violent nature or one that involves narcotics?
– Is the defendant charged with a violation, misdemeanor or felony?
– Is the defendant on parole or on probation at the time of arrest?
The judge will also consider the defendant’s character and whether he/she is a flight risk. Some factors are:
– Does defendant have sufficient ties to the community? Does the defendant reside and have family members living in the community?
– How long has the defendant lived in the community?
– Does the defendant employed in the community?
– Does the defendant own property in the community?
– Does the defendant have a criminal history?
– Is the defendant a danger or threat to the community?
In some instances a defendant may be released without bail. For example, within hours of the arrest, a police desk officer may issue a desk appearance ticket (DAT), and the defendant is released after processing. Or, during arraignment a judge may “Release on Own Recognizance” (ROR) a defendant, so that he/she is free to go without a need for bail. Please see our articles on DAT’s and ROR’s for more information.
Depending on the court, generally accepted methods of payment are cash, cashiers checks, credit cards and bonds. In addition, the court is required to provide the defendant two of the above mentioned payment methods when making bail. Cash is the preferable method of payment because it has a shorter processing time, which may expedite the defendant’s release. The Court Clerk of whichever court the defendant is arraigned in will have the guidelines of acceptable payment and rules for processing bail such as where to make payment.
If the defendant is in custody, the bail is usually posted at the holding facility where he/she is being held. The rules for making bail at these facilities are governed by the Department of Corrections. Accepted methods of payment in these facilities are:
– U.S. cash for the full amount;
– Cashier’s/Tellers’s check, in any amount not exceeding the bail figure;
– Bank money order, up to $1,000;
– Federal Express money order, up to $1,000;
– U.S. Postal money order, up to $1,000;
– Travelers Express Company money order up to $1,000;
– Western Union money order, up to $1,000;
GOV-PAY via debit/credit card
Please note that an individual money order may not exceed $1,000. Thus, the defendant may have to obtain multiple money orders that do not exceed $1,000 which when add up with perhaps cash will total the bail amount. The defendant must have the exact amount of bail as the Department of Corrections does not make change. Write all checks and money orders payable to the detention center. For New York City, make all money orders or cashiers checks payable as follows:
– Brooklyn Detention Center
– Manhattan Detention Complex
– Vernon C Bain Center
– Rikers Island Central Cashier RICC
Bail payments should never be written out to The Department of Corrections.