How to Post Bail in New York City

The New York City Department of Correction (DOC) manages New York City’s prison population and all matters related to the imprisonment and custody of inmates and detainees.  When a person has been charged with a crime, but has not been found guilty, he or she may be detained until bail is posted.  New York assault lawyer Seth Koslow explains the DOC’s rules for posting bail in New York City’s detention facilities, such as the Manhattan Detention Complex (“The Tombs”) and the Brooklyn Detention Complex.

Acceptable Forms of Payment for Posting Bail in New York City

theft and fraud
Not everyone in a jail cell is there to serve a sentence.  Many “prisoners” are actually detainees, or people who are being held in custody while awaiting trial.  In most cases, detainees can regain their freedom in exchange for a payment, which is called bail.
Bail is generally paid directly at the facility where the detainee is being held.  It is critically important to bring a government-issued ID with you, such as a passport or driver’s license, or you will not be permitted to post bail for your loved one.  Identification cards issued by your school or workplace will not be accepted.
It’s also very important to make your payment in the exact amount, since the facility won’t be able to make change for you.  Jails and detention facilities under the DOC accept the following forms of payment when posting bail:

  • Bank money orders (up to $1,000)
  • Cash (U.S. currency only)
  • Cashier’s checks
  • Credit cards/debit cards (via GOV-PAY only)
  • FedEx money orders (up to $1,000)
  • Travelers Express Company money orders (up to $1,000)
  • USPS money orders (up to $1,000)
  • Western Union money orders (up to $1,000)

If you are using a check or money order to post bail at…

  • Brooklyn Detention Complex – Make the check or money order out to the facility.
  • Manhattan Detention Complex – Make the check or money order out to the facility.
  • Rikers Island – Make the check or money order out to “RICC” or “Rikers Island Central Cashier.”
  • Vernon C. Bain Center – Make the check or money order out to the facility.

How to Bail a Loved One Out of Jail in Brooklyn or Manhattan

Gavel on court desk
To reiterate, it is very important that you do not make your check or money order out to the DOC.  Make it out to the actual facility where the detainee is being held in custody, or your payment will not be accepted.
The following forms of payment will also not be accepted, with no exceptions:

  • Checks or money orders made out to the wrong recipient (e.g. the DOC, the wrong detention facility)
  • Personal checks
  • Otherwise approved checks or money orders in amounts exceeding $1,000
  • Any forms of payment other than the acceptable payment methods listed above

If the bail amount is larger than $1,000 and you wish to pay using a money order, you must use multiple money orders.  For instance, if the bail amount was $2,000, you could use two money orders each totaling $1,000.  The number of orders is unimportant, as long as:

  1. No single order is in an amount larger than $1,000.
  2. The combined order totals are equal to the exact bail amount.

If you attempt to post bail using a non-accepted form of payment, you will simply be turned away.  To ensure that the process goes as smoothly and quickly for you as possible, make sure you have an appropriate form of payment with you before you depart for the facility.

What to Do if a Family Member Was Arrested and Is Being Held in Custody in NYC

While these rules provide some helpful general guidelines, it’s important for the family members of defendants to understand that bail procedures can vary widely from case to case.  In some cases, bail is simply denied outright, though it may be granted later.  For example, last month $1,000 bail was initially denied but later granted for 41-year-old defendant Candice Crump, who was charged in the Bronx with custodial interference.
In other cases, the person qualifies for “release on recognizance” (R.O.R.), which is essentially free bail.  In other cases still, the person is issued something called a desk appearance ticket (DAT), which does not involve any jail time.  When a person receives a DAT, instead of being held in custody at a detention center, he or she is processed at a police station and released with a summons specifying a time and date to go to court.
New York City’s bail procedures can be very stressful and confusing to sort through, but an attorney can help you understand the process – and what comes next for the defendant’s criminal case.  If a loved one has been arrested in New York, contact criminal defense lawyer Seth Koslow right away at (347) 561-0025 for a free and confidential legal consultation.  Our law offices handle a wide array of misdemeanor charges and felony charges throughout the five boroughs, including drug possession, gun possession, sex crimes, theft, and many other offenses.

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