New York State Bail & Bonds Explained: Part I

Any time a person is charged with a crime, one of the first and often most important decisions to be made by the judge is to decide if that person is going home or sitting in jail. Most people are unaware of how that process actually occurs. How long do you stay behind bars? Do you stay in jail until your next court date? Can you go home in the meantime? What can you do if you can come home? In our next few blogs, we’ll explain how the bail and bonds process works in New York State as well as the benefits and restrictions of being released on bail or bond.

Starting from the beginning of the process, after you’ve been arrested, you’ll appear in front of a judge to be arraigned on the charges, schedule your next court date, and the judge will have to decide to release you or hold you in jail until that court date. The judge’s decision is weighed by a number of factors including the severity of your crime and the likelihood of you returning for your next court date. The judge can choose from one of the four options in New York State law:

Release on your own recognizance (ROR): This means that you are being released without supervision to return for your next court date.

Release to a pre-trial release (PTR): With pre-trial release, you’re not on your own like being ROR’d however you don’t have to front money or buy a bond. PTR allows you to leave the confines of jail but assigns you a probation officer with check-in requirements and curfews much like being on probation.

Cash bail: This is typically where you post an amount of cash with the court which will be returned to you when your case is closed. The amount of this bail is decided by the judge and can range from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands.

Bond: This is a common way of posting bail if bail is set. A bond is where a third party (most often a “bail bonds man”) is hired by you to promise to pay the amount of the bond should you skip town and not return for your court date.

What happens if you can’t make bail? You’ll continue to stay in jail until your next court appearance, until you are required to be released by law or until your criminal defense attorney makes an application to a higher court to review your bail. In the meantime, if you or a loved one is in jail and in need of criminal defense, please contact us for a free consultation so that we may advise you on the best options available.