Bail is the payment (typically cash) that is given to the court in exchange for the release of a defendant (while they await their trial or next court date); by paying bail, a defendant agrees to return to court or risk losing their money and freedom. Judges set the amount of bail to be paid, and they can decide to deny bail if a defendant has prior felony convictions. While cash bail is the most commonly used and known type of bail, there are nine forms of bail (New York Criminal Procedure § 520.10); these methods of posting bail include:
- Credit card
- Insurance company bail bond
- Non-monetary conditions of release
- Partially secured surety bond
- Secured appearance bond
- Secured surety bond
- Unsecured appearance bond
- Unsecured surety bond
In 2019, legislation was passed that eliminated bail being set for most misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenses. Under this legislation, judges are required to consider people’s ability to pay bail, and if they set bail, they must offer at least three ways to post the bail (instead of just 2). Because of bail reform, many New Yorkers have been able to await their hearings without having to go to jail when they could not afford to pay bail.
Changes Adopted in Governor Hochul’s Budget
Last week, Governor Hochul signed her $220 billion budget that includes changes to public safety laws, bail reform laws, and other legislation. Included in this budget deal are new policies that impact the bail reforms of 2019 and more. Amongst the changes that have been approved, judges must consider more factors when setting bail, including:
- The defendant’s history of gun use or possession
- Any previous violations concerning orders of protection
- Whether the defendant allegedly caused serious harm to another person(s) according to the charges being levied
Additionally, new reporting requirements concerning bail determinations and their relation to the prosecutor’s recommendation will be instituted. Other criminal justice changes include (but are not limited to):
- Hate crimes that are not currently considered arrestable offenses will become arrestable offenses if the alleged offender is 18 years of age or older.
- Prosecutors will be given more grace, and cases will not be automatically dismissed if prosecutors (in good faith) fail to make certain evidentiary disclosures during the discovery process.
- Additional funding will be given to district attorneys to help their offices deploy enough staff to collect evidence from police records and body camera footage.
- Judges are permitted to set bail for the three felony gun offenses that were not bail-eligible.
- The “Raise the Age loophole,” which gives Family Courts jurisdiction over cases in which 16- and 17-year-old defendants are charged with offenses and not arraigned until they turn 18 years of age.
- Kendra’s Law will be extended through 2027 and will have significant amendments made to the law.
- As a condition of pretrial release, judges will be able to require mental health evaluations.
At The Law Office of Jonathan B. Ripps, we stay up to date on the news and new legislation. If you have questions about how the rollback on the bail reforms may affect you or a loved one or need high-quality representation (during your arraignment, bail hearing, or throughout your case), our team is equipped to help you.
To learn more about our services or schedule a consultation, contact our team online or call (845) 209-0223.