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Some NY Prosecutors Have Stopped Seeking Bail in Minor Cases

February 23, 2018, on Probation & Parole Violations |

When you are arrested, it's important to reach out to an Albany criminal defense attorney right away for help. You need to get the proper legal assistance because you need an attorney to work with you to determine how you should respond to charges. Your lawyer can also argue on your behalf that you should be released on bail so there will not be a need to wait in jail pending trial.

Bail is required as a guarantee to get defendants to return to court on the date of their hearing. If defendants do not come to court, the bail money is forfeited. However, the New York Times now indicates that some prosecutors have discontinued the practice of asking the judge to require bail in minor cases before defendants are released pending trial.

Instead, prosecutors are asking that defendants be released on their own recognizance, which essentially means they are released with nothing more than a promise they will return to court at the appointed time.

Prosecutors in Minor Cases No Longer Asking for Bail…But Why?

According to the New York Times, several of the largest district attorneys’ offices within New York City have established a policy not to request bail for the majority of defendants who are charged with misdemeanor crimes.

The new policy on requesting bail was established within these DA's offices as the state legislature considers a bill that would eliminate cash bail altogether for many offenses.  The policy does not extend to all cases – bail may still be requested for offenses related to domestic violence, child abuse, sex offenses, and certain other cases involving violence against vulnerable victims. However, for cases such as shoplifting, minor drug crimes, and trespassing, defendants would no longer need to post bail under either the DA office's new policy or if new laws pass to prohibit cash bail.

The new policy with regards to cash bail is intended to address issues related to discrimination. The New York Times explains that consensus is growing throughout the United States that poor people face substantial harm due to the cash bail system, with both Hispanic or African American individuals disproportionately impacted by bail policies.

The problem is, unfortunately, many poor people cannot afford to pay bail. As a result, they often are forced to wait in jail pending trial. In many cases, poor people end up pleading guilty because of this, even if they are innocent, because by pleading guilty they may actually get out of jail faster. If they admit guilt, even without having done anything wrong, they may be sentenced to probation, a fine, or community service – but if they fight charges, they could spend weeks behind bars as the case makes its way through the court system.

The shift on bail is a positive sign for defendants who will no longer be forced by circumstances to admit to crimes they did not commit. However, some defendants will still need to argue for bail and an Albany criminal defense attorney can provide appropriate help under these circumstances. You should give us a call to find out more about how an experienced attorney can help with bail issues and with fighting charges whenever you are accused of wrongdoing.

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