Fri 28 Apr, 2023 Criminal Defense

How Do You Bail Someone Out of Jail in NYC?

If you have a friend or family member who is in jail on bail, you probably want to know what steps you can take to bail them out. 

The process of bailing a person out of jail can be very confusing for people who do not have experience with the criminal justice system. This article is aimed to help explain the bail process in NYC so that New Yorkers can know what steps to take to bail someone out of jail. 

What is Bail?

Bail is money that must be paid for a person to be released while his or her case is pending. 

The purpose of bail is to help ensure that a defendant returns to court. When bail is paid, the amount posted is lost if the person does not show up to court.

For example, if the judge sets bail at $200,000 for a murder case and the defendant later fails to appear in court, then the judge has the right to forfeit the bail, meaning that whoever paid the bail will not get the money back. Obviously, personally losing—or causing a loved one to lose—a significant amount of money can be a major incentive for a person to return to court, so people will make sure to return to court if a lot of money is on the line.

If a person makes all his court appearances, then the bail will be returned to the person who paid the bail at the end of the case. To be sure, if a defendant is convicted of a crime, a small percentage of the bail may be taken by the court system, but even if that does happen, the percentage is very small, and the bail payor can expect to get most of the bail back if the defendant makes all his court appearances. However, as discussed below, an insurance company bond is different and will usually result in the payor paying a non-refundable sum to a bail bondsman.

What are the Common Kinds of Bail?

In NYC, judges set several different forms of bail if they set bail. The different forms of bail can function very differently, so it’s important to understand the different kinds of bail and their implications. Ultimately, the form of bail you choose to pay can impact who pays the bail, how much bail is paid, and the extent to which you get the money back when the case is over. The most common forms of bail set in New York City are:

Cash Bail

When a judge sets cash bail, the defendant or someone on the defendant’s behalf must pay the full cash bail amount upfront. Once the payment is processed, the defendant will be released.

For instance, if bail is set at $5000 for a domestic violence charge, the defendant will be held in jail. If someone pays the full $5000 in cash, then the defendant will be released while the case is pending. If the defendant makes all his court appearances, the money will be returned at the end of the court case (minus any small surcharges that may be applicable).

Insurance Company Bond

With an insurance company bond, a bail bondsman company posts the bond with the court for the defendant to be released. However, the payor must enter a contract with the bail bondsman in order for them to agree to post the bond for you. 

Typically, a bail bondsman will charge around 10% of the bond amount plus some bond initiation fees. The bondsman will also typically require that the payor prove how they can pay the full amount of the bond if the defendant does not show up to court. That may include the payor showing paystubs and proof of ownership of various assets like homes or cars. Importantly, the payor will not get the approximate 10% fee back once the defendant’s case is concluded.

For instance, let’s say a defendant is charged with an A-I felony drug sale and the judge sets cash bail at $50,000 and an insurance company bond at $200,000. If you were to use a bail bondsman to post a bond for the defendant, you would likely pay over $20,000 (10%), which would not be returnable once your case is over. If you failed to appear in court, you would owe the bail bondsman the full $200,000. 

On the other hand, if you chose the cash bail, you would pay more upfront ($50,000), but you would essentially get all of it back once your case is over, assuming the defendant makes all of the court appearances.

Partially Secured Bond

A more common form of bail set by judges in recent years is the partially secured bond. With a partially secured bond, the guarantor only pays a certain percentage of the bond (typically 10%) but is responsible for the full amount if the defendant does not appear in court. 

The great thing about a partially secured bond is that, unlike an insurance company bond, the payor gets the money back at the end of the case if the defendant attends all of his or her court appearances, yet the total upfront cost is similar to the costs of a bail bondsman (around 10%). However, the payor will have to personally appear in court and possibly answer questions under oath, and the process takes longer than cash bail.

How Do I Pay Bail?

If you choose to pay cash bail, you can pay it at any Department of Corrections facility. Additionally, if the judge set a credit card option, then the cash bail can conveniently be paid online. This is the fastest option and can result in a defendant being released within hours after the payment goes through.

If you choose to pay the insurance company bond through a bail bondsman, then you should contact a bail bondsman near you. It may take several days for you to gather all the paperwork the bail bondsman needs in order to agree to accept the bond.

If you choose to pay the partially secured bond, you will need to go to the courthouse and bring the money and proof that you are able to pay the full amount if the defendant does not appear at a future court date. If you choose this method, you should speak with the defendant’s attorney to discuss what supporting documentation you should have to sign for the bond.

Let NYC Criminal Lawyer Cody Warner Help

If you would like to retain private counsel for a friend or family member who is in jail facing criminal charges, contact NYC criminal lawyer Cody Warner to develop a strategic plan of action. Cody can discuss bail options with you and determine the best path forward.