You or a loved one has been arrested, now what? After an arrest, you will be brought before a judge in the local criminal court. At that time, the judge will decide whether to set bail (monetary condition) or release you while you fight your charge(s). The consequences of having bail set are devastating for the person in custody and their families, but we can help. Our staff in the Decarceration Project work with our trial lawyers to make sure that everyone has a chance at freedom, and our Prisoners’ Rights Project can advocate for the incarcerated person’s safety and health inside NYC jails and State prisons.
If you have an open criminal case, call the Criminal Defense Office in the borough where your case is pending and ask for your assigned attorney.
Staten Island: 347-422-5333
If you are seeking help for someone who is incarcerated and has complaints regarding physical or sexual abuse and/or conditions with their health or treatment, please contact the Prisoners’ Rights Project at 212-577-3530. We generally do not directly represent individuals in individual litigation, but focus our resources on systemic challenges. We can provide accurate information about rights during incarceration and advocate for your safety and health.
Under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Standards, transgender and intersex persons have some particular protections while in custody. Showers need to be private. There are some limits on searches. Jail and prison officials should give serious consideration to a transgender or intersex person’s own views on where they can be safely housed, including when assigning them to male or female facilities. In New York City, the Human Rights Commission has determined that housing should presumptively be based on gender identity. Birth anatomy should not be the determining factor in decisions on housing. In the New York State prison system, you can request housing in a gender-congruent facility by asking your counselor.
Read the PREA Standards here.
Prison and jail officials have a legal duty under the Constitution to protect people from sexual abuse, both from staff and from other people in custody. Jail and prison authorities in New York also should comply with National Standards to Prevent, Detect and Deter Prison Rape (the “PREA Standards). You can read them here.
If your friend or loved one is subjected to sexual abuse or harassment, you or they should be able to report it confidentially, described in more detail below. Once they receive the report, officials are required to take action to protect the person and investigate the allegation. Since sexual abuse is a sensitive matter and since people in custody always face a risk of retaliation, we suggest you make sure that the incarcerated person wants you to report the abuse to jail or prison officials before you do so.
Because people in custody cannot seek medical care on their own, jail and prison officials have an obligation to provide reasonably adequate medical care to incarcerated persons to address serious medical and mental health needs. Medical and mental health professionals must exercise reasonable medical judgment.
People in custody continue to have rights under the First Amendment of the Constitution to maintain contact with the outside world. These rights can, however, be limited, with greater restrictions allowed when someone has been convicted. We continue to fight for people in custody to have greater access to communication and materials.
More information about incarcerated people’s right to communicate with the outside world can be found in The Jailhouse Lawyers’ Manual.
New York’s criminal court handles misdemeanors and lesser offenses. The court also conducts arraignments and preliminary hearings for felonies.
Bail is an amount of money that some people charged with crimes have to pay in order to be released from jail while they continue to fight their case.
There are nine different forms of bail and the law requires that the judge give at least two ways of posting (paying) bail.
Bail is money that some criminal defendants are required to deposit to guarantee their return to court while their case is pending. Learn more about the ways you post bail.
If the defendant has made court appearances as required, cash bail should be returned at the end of the case. If the case has ended in a conviction, 3% of the bail will be kept by the government.
If the accused does not come to court when required to do so, the judge may order that bail be “forfeited,” or kept by the City.
Procedures for prison visitation vary for city and state prisons. Find the information you need below.
Finding a lawyer to represent you on your Criminal case depends on whether you can afford a lawyer. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, you will have one assigned to you by the court.
In most cases, the time spent in jail before a prisoner is sentenced should be credited toward the sentence that is imposed. However, prisoners often find that they have not been credited with all the time they have spent in jail, resulting in a later release date. The steps prisoners should take to have the error corrected vary, depending on whether they are located in a City jail or in State prison.
The justice system can be overwhelming. Get familiar with some legal terms and acronyms you might hear like appeal, adjournment, petition, jurisdiction, deposition, and affidavit.
Last Updated: 18 September 2019
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