The Process of Bail Bonds

A person is arrested for a criminal offense in New York City. The individual is charged with a crime. At this point they are known as a defendant.  They are brought to the local police precinct to be booked.  The defendant is either released with a desk appearance ticket, which is an order that they must appear before a judge in court on a specific date, or they are eventually transferred to the Criminal Court in the County in which they were arrested. Every individual that is not released on a desk appearance ticket needs to be arraigned by a Judge.

When the defendant is transferred to the Criminal Court in the County in which they were arrested, they are taken into custody. There they wait to be arraigned by a Judge. At the arraignment, the defendant is notified of all the current charges that have been brought against him thus far in the proceeding. At this juncture, the Judge will decide one of three things: to grant bail or not to grant bail; to release the defendant on their own recognizance; or to remand the defendant back into custody without bail.

In deciding to grant bail or not grant bail the Judge takes into account many factors, including the severity of the crime the defendant is being charged with. The Judge will also reflect on whether or not the defendant is going to have a Grand Jury Proceeding. The defense attorney will argue for no bail or minimal bail, which is more likely to bring about the defendant’s release, while the prosecutor will recommend that bail be set, sometimes a high bail even for minor offenses, in order to ensure the defendant remains in custody. Another factor under consideration by the Judge are the ties the defendant has to his community, including the cities in which they’ve lived previously. Also under review are the defendant’s employment status, whether they have citizenship in another country, whether they have a family in New York City, and whether they have family in other parts of the country—among other factors.

A Grand Jury is composed of 16-23 Jurors who hear testimony and evidence as presented by prosecutors. If 12 or more members of the Jury feel that there is sufficient evidence, the trial will proceed and the defendant will be indicted. An indictment is the formal charging of a defendant with a felony charge. A defendant cannot be tried for felony charges in the state of New York unless they have been indicted.

Some key terms

Release on your own recognizance is commonly referred to as “ROR.” This happens when the Judge has decided that the defendant is not a flight risk and has a high likelihood of returning to court throughout the duration of the case without a bail bond in place.

Remanded is a term used to describe defendants that are being held without bail. There are several reasons that a defendant can be held without bail.  The crime can be very serious in nature and the Judge can determine that the defendant poses a risk to the general public. The defendant can also be such a high flight risk that even with an exorbitant bail, the Judge may still feel that there is little likelihood of the defendant returning to Court to face the charges.

Bail, which is granted by the Judge, usually consists of an amount of money that someone can put up in cash with the Court OR an amount of Bail Bond that will be needed in order to release the defendant from jail. A Bail Bond is a three-party guarantee where the surety (the Company giving the bond) promises the oblige (The Court) that the principal (defendant) will appear at all of their court dates until the final resolution of the case.  The surety also requires family members or friends of the defendants to sign for the bond. These people are often referred to as indemnitors.

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Indemnitors are financially responsible for the defendant’s court appearance and paying the bail.  The bond company charges a premium, which is a non-refundable fee for the bond.The surety on the bond must make sure that the defendant makes all of their required court appearances.  If the defendant misses any court appearances, the bail bond is forfeited and the surety company must pay the court the bond amount. The surety will then pursue the indemnitors (the people who signed for the bond) for the bond amount plus costs, interest, and fees related to the defendants failed appearance in court.

Just because a defendant is released on his or her own recognizance does not mean that they will not be given bail at a later date in the case. A Judge can change the status of bail at anytime during the trial based on a variety of factors such as the defendant’s failure to appear at one of their court dates, a rearrest, or that a new Judge to which they’ve been assigned decides to re-arraign them, which is common. A defendant who has been remanded in the early stages of the case can also be granted bail at a later date. At Nationwide Bail Bond Agency we will keep you informed of any changes in your case and explain them to you in detail.

At Nationwide Bail Bond Agency, we determine the risk of the bond as well as the appropriate amount of collateral for each bond. Sometimes we do not find it necessary to request any collateral at all.  Before you contact us to discuss our services, it is beneficial to know the following facts, as you will likely be serving as the defendant’s indemnitor:

  • the defendant’s name, date of birth, and the charges currently pending against them
  • your relationship to the defendant
  • your occupation, the duration of your employment with the same company, your annual compensation
  • if the defendant is employed, then their occupation, employer and employment standing, and their annual salary
  • whether or not the defendant has previously missed a court date

Once Nationwide Bail Bond Agency approves the bond, a representative of the company meets with the people signing for the bond and they execute some contracts for the bond. The people indemnifying the surety for the bond pay the appropriate premium and grant permission to Nationwide to secure any collateral that it requires. Nationwide Bail Bond Agency then proceeds to post the bail bond.

When the Agent appears in Court to post the bond, the Judge reviews the application for the bail. The Judge asks questions. There is a back and forth between the bail bond agent and the Court regarding what was used to collateralize the bail, who guaranteed the bond, and how much was paid. At this time the Judge can either approve the bond or deny the bond.Once the Judge approves the bond, the Judge will execute a court order commanding the Commission of Corrections to release the defendant from their custody. If the case is pending before a Judge in Manhattan Supreme Court, the Court itself will notify the Jail to release the defendant. But if the case is pending before a criminal court Judge in New York County, the family itself will be required to drop off the court order (commonly known as a cut slip) off at the Jail.Cases that are pending in both the Criminal Court and Supreme Criminal Court in Queens, Brooklyn, Richmond, and Bronx Counties require the family to drop the cut slip off at the Jail after the bond is posted to secure the defendants release.

The defendant is required to make an appearance in Nationwide Bail Bond Agency, Inc.’s office within one week of being released from Jail. If they fail to appear in the Nationwide office, Nationwide can, at the indemnitors expense, revoke the bail and return the defendant back into jail.

For more information, please call Neil P. Pedersen or one of his colleagues at 212-608-7900.