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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 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.

How is Bail Determined in New York?

Bail provides an incentive for criminal defendants to appear in court. It is intended to prevent defendants from fleeing in order to avoid prosecution. Defendants accused of non-felony crimes must be released on bail or recognizance. However, defendants facing felony charges may be denied these options. Bail may take any of the following forms:

  • Cash
  • Credit
  • Surety bonds
  • Insurance company bail bonds
  • Appearance bonds

Bail Criteria in New York

The type and amount of bail is ordinarily decided by the judge presiding over a criminal case. The criteria used for making bail decisions include:

  • The defendant’s financial resources;
  • The defendant’s length of residence in the community;
  • The defendant’s family ties;
  • The defendant’s criminal record;
  • The defendant’s mental state, character, habits, and reputation in the community;
  • The defendant’s employment status;
  • The defendant’s court appearance history;
  • The probability of conviction; and
  • The severity of the possible sentence to be imposed.

The Bail Hearing in New York

At the bail hearing, the prosecution and defense present arguments based on the above factors. 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.

Cash Bail in New York

In New York, cash bail is treated differently than other forms of payment. If cash is used to post bail, and the court finds the defendant guilty of the crimes with which he or she has been charged, then the court returns 97% of the cash upon the case’s conclusion. However, if the court finds the defendant not guilty, then all of the cash bail is returned.