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Bail in New York State: Form, Type and Amount

Whether in a New York City Criminal Court, Westchester County Supreme Court Criminal Term or a Justice Court in a Rockland County municipality, it is incumbent upon your arraignment lawyer to ensure prosecutors and judges follow the law. While cash bail may no longer be as prevalent as in the past, courts in New York can still set different types of securing orders and conditions of your release that have both immediate and far reaching implications. Because merely being aware of the statutes and regulations establishing the parameters for both non-monetary and monetary securing orders is not enough, retaining an attorney for your arraignment on criminal charges who has working knowledge of New York bail statutes is critical to your defense both at your first appearance and throughout the criminal justice process.

General Rules and Guidelines

If money, aka, bail, is required for your release, the court is required to allow for at least two other forms of “payment” beyond straight cash. More specifically, according to CPL 520.10(2)(b), a judge must allow you to post bail in one of three or more forms and at least one of those forms shall be either an unsecured or partially secured surety bond. Some of the other forms listed in CPL 520.10(1) include cash, insurance company bail, credit card and unsecured appearance bond.

Breaking Down Bail and its Various Forms

In conjunction with CPL 520.10(1), the different methods you or another person can post bail and satisfy bond requirements are set forth and defined in CPL 500.10 as follows:

Cash

Any person can pay cash including you as a defendant or a friend or family member. In such situations, the entire amount is needed even if shared among multiple parties.

Credit Card

Any person can use a credit card assuming they are authorized to do so. Unlike cash, multiple credit cards are not permissible. It is worth noting that a clerk cannot charge you an administrative fee, but credit card companies would charge interest or other fees in the regular course of their business.

Secured Surety Bond

You or any party can post a secured security bond. The two options that satisfy this fully secured option are either personal property or real property. The former must at least be equal to the amount required by the court while the latter must be at least twice the amount of the bond.

Partially Secured Surety Bond

Again, you, as a defendant, or any other party can pay a partially secured bond. Monies used to obtain this may not exceed 10% of the bond’s full amount. This fee or partial security is returned upon the closing of the case.

Unsecured Surety Bond

Any person can be a guarantor for an unsecured surety bond. One or more persons agrees to accept responsibility for the bond should you not return, but that person or persons is not required to provide any property or monies as a condition of this vehicle for release. In substance, this is a promise to pay the full bond if necessary.

Secured Appearance Bond

Same as a secured surety bond but you sign off on this form.

Partially Secured Appearance Bond

Same as a partially secured surety bond but the monies come from you.

Unsecured Appearance Bond

Same as an unsecured security bond but you are the guarantor.

Non-Monetary Conditions of Release

As long as it the least restrictive, courts may still set non-monetary terms of release that will not impact your finances nor be based on your ability to pay. Generally, if your attorney successfully argues both law and facts to secure your release with non-monetary conditions, CPL 510.40(5) stipulates that the court must place on the record the conditions you must adhere to as a guide for your conduct and the consequences of violating these terms. It must also do so in an “individualized written document.”

Electronic Monitoring

As a preliminary matter, a select group of defendants are eligible for electronic monitoring. If you are charged with a felony, “sex crime” misdemeanor codified in Penal Law Article 130, misdemeanor Domestic Violence crime, or any other misdemeanor where you have a conviction in the previous five (5) years for a statutorily defined violent crime pursuant to CPL 70.02, then you are eligible for electronic monitoring. CPL 500.10(21). Not only would you be physically out of custody with such a condition, but you would not be required to pay for this service. In determining whether the court should release you with this type of condition, a judge must determine that “…no other realistic non-monetary condition or set of non-monetary conditions will suffice to reasonably assure [your] return to court.” CPL 510.40(4)(a).

Electronic monitoring can be in place for no more than sixty (60) days without the court finding in writing and explaining on the record why it should be continued. Equally important, if you are monitored in such a manner you are deemed in custody for the purposes of CPL 180.80 and CPL 170.70 even though you are not incarcerated. Although your counsel will explain what this means, in its simplest form these statutes relate to when you must be released from physical custody if prosecutors fail to file an indictment or a misdemeanor information respectively. CPL 510.40(4)(d).

Changed Circumstances and Alteration of Bail or Supervisory Conditions

While a judge has both the authority and ability change your release conditions, the law provides statutory guidelines for each of these potential modifications pursuant to CPL 530.60(2)(a) and CPL 530.60(2)(b). Importantly, before a judge makes this determination, your lawyer must protect and exercise your right to a bail revocation hearing where he or she must ensure the court finds reasonable cause to believe or clear and convincing evidence depending on the nature of the violation and offenses charged. Only if the court finds the evidence reaches these respective standards can new and more restrictive conditions be implemented.

Your Case, Your Rights, Your Future

Protecting your rights in and future outside the courtroom requires experience, advocacy and knowledge regarding New York bail laws and statutes. Only the strongest arguments to secure the least restrictive measures and to make sure judges and prosecutors adhere to the law will succeed. The criminal defense lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC are the attorneys you need to manage your bail status, maintain your liberty, and put you in the strongest position to see your case through to a successful and appropriate resolution.

If you need help with bail related matters, contact us online or call (212) 312-7129 today.

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