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New York Bail Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Bail?

Bail is collateral that someone charged with a crime is required to pledge to ensure that he (or she) will return to court throughout the criminal process. Typically, the judge will make a decision about bail during arraignment. Depending on the charge, the prosecutor may make an argument for high bail or that you are held without bail. Your New York bail lawyer will counter the prosecutor’s arguments by giving reasons that you should be released without having to post bail (ROR), or that you should have to post a low bail. Ultimately, the judge will decide whether or not bail is required and if so, the amount.

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How Does the Judge Determine Whether or Not Grant Bail?

During arraignment the judge will consider a number of different factors in deciding whether you should be required to post bail. Factors the judge will consider include the seriousness of the charge, your character, family ties, your prior criminal record, your record of appearing/not appearing at court, the probability of conviction, and the possible sentence if convicted.

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What Are the Different Types of Bail?

In most cases the judge will require a bail in the form of cash or bond. Bond means that a company such as an insurance company agrees to pay the bail if you fail to show up in court. If your bail is paid by bond, the bail bondsman will charge you a nonrefundable fee.

The full list of the ways in which bail can be paid include: cash, insurance company bail bond, secured surety bond, partially secured surety bond, partially secured appearance bond, unsecured surety bond, unsecured appearance bond, and credit card. Note that while bail can be paid using a cashier’s check, bail cannot be paid with a personal check.

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Bail can be paid at the courthouse or at the Department of Corrections (DOC). In order to pay it at the courthouse, you as the defendant must be present in court. For example, if bail is set at arraignment, your family member or friend can pay it immediately at the courthouse. If bail is paid immediately after arraignment, then you will be able to leave from the courthouse instead of being transferred to the Department of Corrections. Bail can also be paid at the courthouse when you are there for other appearances after arraignment.

If you are being held at a Department of Corrections facility, bail must be paid at a DOC facility such as Rikers Island, Brooklyn Detention Complex, Manhattan Detention Complex, or the Vernon C. Bain Center.

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What Happens if I Cannot Post Bail?

As a New York bail lawyer will explain, if you are unable to post bail, then you will be held in jail until your case is resolved. If you believe that your bail is too high given the facts of your case, then with the help of a bail attorney familiar with the New York bail policies, you can request that the judge reduce your bail.

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Will I Get the Bail Money Back?

Bail money will be returned at the end of your case if you make all of your court appearances. In other words, whether the bail money is returned is up to you. If you are found not guilty or if your case is dismissed, you will get 100% of the bail money back. If you make all of your court appearances, but you are convicted, the bail will be returned less a 3% fee. If you miss a court appearance, the judge will issue a “forfeit order” for your cash bond. However, with the help of a skilled New York bail lawyer, you can apply to have the cash bond returned despite missing a court appearance. If your bail is paid by bond, you will be required to pay bond fees which are not refundable regardless of the outcome of your case.

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Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Whether the judge will approve your request for bail reduction depends on a variety of factors. Typically you must show that you are not a flight risk, that you do not present a risk of re-offending while out on bail, or that circumstances have changed since arraignment when bail was set. Or you can make concessions to the court that show that you have no intention of fleeing, such as offering to give your passport to the court.

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