Bail is collateral, in the form of cash or bond, that must be posted for the defendant to ensure that he returns to court on a designated future date.

During the defendant's arraignment the prosecutor may request that bail be set and give reasons for the bail conditions requested. The defendant's attorney will be given a chance to respond to advocate for lower or no bail. The court will then decide whether to set bail, release the defendant on his own recognizance (ROR), or hold the defendant in jail without bail (remand). If bail is set and the bail is not posted for the defendant, the New York City Department of Corrections detains him in jail until the next court date.

When deciding whether to set bail (and if so, how much), the judge may consider the following factors:

  • Character, reputation, habits and mental condition of the defendant
  • Employment and financial resources
  • Family/community ties and length of residence in the community
  • Criminal and juvenile record
  • Previous record of court appearances or flight
  • Weight of evidence and any other factor indicating probability of conviction
  • The sentence that may be or has been imposed upon conviction (upon a guilty plea or after trial)

Posting Bail

Bail may be posted in cash or by bond through a bail bondsman for a fee. Once bail is posted, the defendant is released from custody unless the prosecutor challenges the defendant's release in which case a bail source (surety) hearing is held. If bail is posted when the defendant actually appears before the court the defendant can be released from the courtroom before being transferred to jail. It is best to pay bail at the correctional facility where the person is being held; however, bail may be paid at any of the following correctional facilities:

Additional information about posting bail, as well as information on locating defendants and jails, retrieving prisoners property, visiting hours and rules, and travel directions is available on the New York City Department of Correction's website or by calling the Department of Correction at 718-546-0700.

Forfeiting Bail

If a defendant is released either on his own recognizance or on bail, he is informed that failure to appear for future court appearances may result in a bench warrant being issued for his arrest. In addition, if the defendant has posted bail, the bail may be forfeited or not returned if he fails to appear.

Getting Bail Refunded

If the defendant has made court appearances as required, cash bail should be returned at the end of the case. When the case is over, the judge should issue an order for the return of bail ("exonerating" the bail). The New York City Department of Finance will issue a check to the person who deposited the bail. If the case ends in a conviction, three percent of the bail will be kept by the government.