What to Do When Someone is Arrested

  • In New York, when somebody Is arrested they are usually processed and brought to central booking before they see a judge for arraignment, where a plea will be entered and a decision will be made on bail. The time from arrest to arraignment is about 24 hours. Determine what time the arrest took place and call the appropriate court for information about when they will be arraigned. If you retain our firm to appear for the arraignment, we will find this information out for you and tell you where to meet us.
  • This 24 hours can be a crucial time, during which police and prosecutors sometimes attempt to interrogate the accused and elicit statements. While law enforcement authorities may say they’re trying to give you a chance to sort things out, this is never the case. Instead, they are trying to get statements to use against you. Even seemingly harmless statements can cause problems down the road. For example, a suspect may admit to being present at the scene but say they were not involved in the crime. A statement such as this greatly assists the prosecution, which would otherwise bear the burden of proving at trial that the suspect was present. Ironically, this type of interrogation can be even more crucial in the case of someone who is innocent or has a good explanation for their conduct, because someone who does not believe they have done anything wrong is more inclined to talk to police to defend themselves. Again, making statements can only hurt your case. Even the most disciplined and legally savvy defendant often succumbs to the temptation to attempt to talk their way out of things when in reality they are simply helping the prosecution build its case. It is crucial to hire a criminal defense attorney right away, who can call the police and prosecutors and stop them from speaking to a defendant outside the lawyer’s presence.
  • Once you know where and when the arraignment will take place, plan to head to court and bring other family members if possible. A Judge is far more likely to release a defendant on their own recognizance (known as ”ROR”) or set reasonable bail if they see that the person has ties to the community and a supportive family in court. Also, you should bring as much cash as possible with you to the arraignment so that if bail is set you will be able to pay it right away. Many times, a defendant can be released directly from court but only if bail money is available at the time of the arraignment. Otherwise, the defendant will be returned to jail where bail can be posted, but it will cost the accused several more hours in custody. The criminal defense attorneys at the Graber Law Firm can give you a better sense of how much bail money may be necessary.
  • You will also need to be prepared to pay your attorney an initial fee at arraignment. Some attorneys, including the Graber Law Firm, can accept payment by credit card when necessary. Please contact us to discuss payment options.
  • Hiring an experienced and diligent private criminal defense attorney in time for him or her to be present at the arraignment can make the difference in obtaining release at arraignment. Anyone without an attorney will have a public defender (an attorney paid by the State) appointed to represent them at arraignment. While the public defender who handles the case could well be competent, they will have a heavy load of cases and will not be able to provide the same level of attention to your case as a private attorney who will be able to spend the necessary time speaking with the accused and his or her family to acquire any information that can be used to convince the court to release the accused at the time of arraignment.
  • Many people think that there will be an opportunity at arraignment to contest or explain the charges against them. However, the main purpose of an arraignment is to enter a plea to the charges and for a Judge to either release the defendant on their own recognizance, set bail, or in the most serious cases to remand the defendant without bail.
  • Sometimes, a plea deal will be offered at arraignment and the prosecution will say that it is a one time offer. A defendant has to decide very quickly whether it is worth taking. In this case, it is that much more important to have an accessible and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney by your side who can take the time to fully evaluate the offer and explain the options available to you..
  • Likewise, many times other crucial decisions need to be made at the time of the arraignment. For example, the District Attorney’s office may ask the defendant to waive their constitutional speedy trial rights to give their office a chance to investigate the case. A decision will have to be made on the spot, and the prosecutor will usually say that if a defendant refuses to waive this right at arraignment they will not offer a plea bargain at any time during the case, meaning the defendant will be forced to either plead guilty to the top charge or go to trial. Deciding whether to waive speedy trial rights is an important decision which requires an often complicated analysis of the case. Again, having a seasoned criminal defense attorney with you at arraignment to help make this decision can be crucial.

Bail In New York & Federal Courts

Cash bail is merely the sum of money that is presented to any jail in New York City to secure the release of the accused while a case is in progress. Assuming the accused appears at all required court appearances, the cash bail (or at least most of it) will be returned to the person who posted the bail. A bail bond is a guarantee by a bond company to pay the amount of the bond if the accused fails to appear at the required court appearances. In a nutshell, the bail bond company has agreed to financially guarantee the accused’s presence in court.

The two types of bail the judge is referring to are the two most common forms of bail — cash or insurance company bail bond (or more simply bail bond).

The Department of Corrections web site states: the New York City Department of Corrections will accept the following forms of cash bail:

United States cash for the full amount Cashier’s/Tellers’ checks, in any amount not greater than the bail amount Bank money order, up to $1000 Federal Express money order, up to $1000 U.S. Postal money order, up to $1000 Travelers Express Company money order, up to $1000 Western Union money order, up to $1000 Check issued by the city Finance Administrator for a bail refund. (There is no $1000 maximum but the check must not exceed the amount of the new bail.) Veterans Administration Check up to $1000 U.S. Government checks, up to $1,000 Cash in combination with any of the above for the total amount of the bail

NOTE: The $1000 limits noted above apply to an individual instrument only. They are not meant to prohibit multiple instruments. For example, the City will accept FIVE bank money orders for $1000 each in payment for a $5000 bail. The total of the checks, however, must not exceed the amount of the bail.

Another type of bail involves using a piece of property as collateral bail until the case is resolved. Bail in the form of property typically occurs in cases where the bail is exceptionally high. Generally, it is not set at the arraignment, rather it is requested by the defense attorney through a negotiation with the prosecutor and consent of a judge.

Posting property as bail may sound like an appealing way to avoid bail bond fees. However, it is often difficult to locate a clerk who is truly versed in the details required to post property for bail.

If you are facing a bail situation, consult with your criminal defense lawyer.