New York’s New Cash Bail Law

On April 1, 2019, New York passed a criminal justice reform that eliminates the need for cash bail and pretrial detention for most misdemeanor and nonviolent felony offenses. This law went into effect on January 1, 2020; the goal is to reduce unnecessary, pretrial incarceration and improve reasonable practices in the New York criminal justice process.

Which Offenses Are Affected by This Reform?

This bail reform affects the following crimes:

  1. Misdemeanors: Money bail is eliminated except if someone is accused of a sex-related misdemeanor and/or criminal contempt for the violation of a protection order in a domestic violence scenario.
  2. Nonviolent Felonies: Money bail and pretrial detention are eliminated except if someone is accused of witness tampering or intimidation, conspiracy to commit murder, and/or a felony contempt charge (involving domestic violence, offenses against children, sex offenses, and terrorism).
  3. Violent Felonies: Most violent felonies will continue the use of bail except for the felony sub-sections of burglary and robbery.

The new law places additional requirements on offenses that continue to require cash bail. For example, a New York court will now set at least 3 forms of bail that must include a partially secured or unsecured bond as 2 of these forms. Partially secured bonds allow defendants to pay 10% (or less) of the total bail amount up front. Additionally, the law requires all judges to consider whether each defendant can pay bail before setting the amount.

Other Important Reform Provisions

If the defendant is a ‘flight risk’ or is known to leave the area before the official trial date, the reform requires a judge to set the least restrictive alternative that will assure the defendant returns to court. For example, the court may issue a supervised release, enhanced court date reminders, and/or travel restrictions.

Reform provisions may also include:

  1. Risk Assessment: A court could consider information from a release assessment tool created to predict a defendant’s likelihood of skipping their trial date. Release decisions are not based on biases such as race or gender, nor are they based on whether a defendant is considered dangerous or a risk to public safety.
  2. Bench Warrant Grace Period: The court is prohibited from issuing a warrant for at least 48 hours after a defendant fails to appear (unless the defendant is charged with a new crime or there is evidence of a conscious effort to not appear).
  3. Response to Noncompliance: The court can now revoke release conditions as well as set new conditions (including detention and/or monetary bail) in response to certain forms of pretrial behavior. For example, if a defendant commits a new felony even after an initial felony charge.

An Aggressive Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been arrested, our criminal defense attorney can help negotiate your immediate release and trial date. Whether or not your offense complies with the new cash bail reform, we can work with the court to defend your rights.

Call our firm today at (914) 996-4511 or contact us online for a FREE initial consultation.