Bail process in New York. Following an arrest, you are likely to be brought to one of the Houses of Detention located throughout the city in Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. After you have been fully processed into one of the facilities – including fingerprinting, photograph and paperwork – you may be able to begin the bail process. For most misdemeanors, judges rely on a bail schedule so that you do not have to wait for a bond hearing. That often is not the case with a felony, particularly with a defendant with a history of previous arrests. You can call a friend or relative with sufficient cash to post bail or deal with a local bail bond company.
Types of Bail in New York. New York law spells out 9 different ways to post bail, although most spin off from two main categories – cash and surety bonds.
- Cash bail. This can be paid by the defendant or a co-signer on behalf of the defendant. Cash bail must be sufficient to pay the entire amount of the bail set in court. Most of this money is returned if the defendant meets all bail obligations.
- Insurance company bond. This is the language that New York uses for a surety bond issued by a bail bond agent. Most bail bond companies charge a 10 percent premium. Either the defendant or a co-signer can enter into an agreement with a bail bond agent. Proof of income or collateral will be required.
- Surety bond. A secured surety bond is similar to a property bond and requires that a co-signer is posting real estate or property at least equal to twice the value of the bail. If the defendant puts up the property, the bond is referred to as a secured appearance bond and the value of the property or real estate also must be twice the amount of the bail. Courts may also accept partially secured bonds – usually 10 percent of the total amount of the bond – posted either by the defendant or a co-signer.
- Unsecured bond. Either the defendant or a co-signer can sign an agreement promising to pay the full amount of the bail if required. No property or money is required, and these arrangements must be approved by the court – often requiring proof of income or assets.
Setting bail. Judges set bail in New York City, though it is common for misdemeanor crimes to receive standard bail amounts based on a schedule, assuming there are no complicating factors in the case. For more serious crimes, bail is set at the arraignment and having a criminal defense attorney can be quite useful to argue for a lower bail amount or an unsecured release. Under New York law, judges are directed to consider 9 factors when setting bail – from the defendant’s character and previous ability to show up to court to his family ties, financial resources and character and reputation.
Bail costs and options. New York’s laws regulating bail premiums allow for a bail bond company to charge as little as 6 percent and no more than 10 percent of the bail mount. More specifically, bond companies can charge 10 percent of the first $3,000 of bail, 8 percent of the next $7,000 and 6 percent of any remaining balance. With a cash bond, New York law requires that 3 percent of a cash bond is withheld in the case ended with a conviction.