Dark Brown Gavel with Scale of Justice Behind It

Preparing for Your Criminal Bail Hearing

What Factors Will A New York Judge Consider In Setting Your Bail Amount?

If you have been arrested in the state of New York, you may need to post a bail amount to secure your release.  Bail is a term used to describe a cash amount that is set by the judge to ensure you will come to court to face your criminal charges.  The bail amount must be paid before you can be released. Generally, the judge will give you the option of posting a cash amount or paying a bail bondsman to put up the funds, known as a bond.  There are several factors which a judge will consider when setting a bail amount. Our New York City criminal defense lawyers discuss some basics regarding your bail hearing and how you might be able to secure a reduction in your bail amount below.

New York’s New Bail Law

A new bail law will go into effect in January of 2020 in New York. The law eliminates cash bail for most misdemeanor or non-violent felony offenses. Now, most people charged with low-level nonviolent offenses will be automatically released to face trial, rather than need to post a cash bail amount. This makes New York the third state to eliminate the cash bond for low-level offenses. 

The Bail Hearing

Typically, a defendant will be brought from the police station to jail until they can be presented for arraignment.  During the arraignment hearing, you will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The judge will also have the option of setting bail. Importantly, the law allows a judge to decline setting bail for defendants facing serious felony charges.

If the judge elects to set a bail amount, several factors may be considered.  These factors include the defendant’s previous criminal record, character, reputation in the local community, family ties, length of residence the weight of the evidence existing against the defendant, employment and financial status and the defendant’s history of appearing for court.  In arguing for a fair bail amount, your defense attorney will present all factors in your favor. The critical question is whether you will appear in court, so any evidence that supports the fact that you will not flee is to be presented.

If your bail is initially set too high for you to post that amount, your attorney can move for a bail reduction hearing.  At the hearing, you will have another chance to argue for a lower bail amount and you can present evidence to support your argument. With the help of your attorney, you may then be able to secure your release from jail while awaiting trial.