NY Court Appeals Now Forbids NY Judges From Setting Cash Bail Only- Bail Bonds & Bondsmen Now Option
New York Professional Bondsmen & Agents President George Zouvelos claims victory For The Public & Bail Bondsmen after nearly a decade of trying to educate the court system regarding cash bail only option being illegal & discriminatory against accused
By: The NY Professional Bail Bondsmen & Agents, NYPBA
“Today, New York’s Highest Court is protecting this sacred presumption and shut down what has become the common illegal practice of many New York State Judges who set cash bail only with no bail bond alternative. I and other New York professional bail bondsmen across our state have encountered these former illegal and discriminatory seeming practices for decades, and we have always maintained that the unlawful setting of a ‘Cash Bail Only’ option for defendants who are arraigned or stuck In jail awaiting trial is also a clear violation of a defendant due process rights,” said George Zouvelos.
“This traditional right to freedom before conviction permits the unhampered preparation of a defense, and serves to prevent the infliction of punishment prior to conviction.’
“The New York State Court of Appeals, is the final word on the law in as far as all New York State Courts are concerned, will no longer allow New York Judges and Courts to block the accused and consumers from utilizing the services of New York State Professional Bail Bondsmen. Today finally ended the former ill court practices we have been fighting against that otherwise ‘shut-out’
In the case of, ‘People v. Peerless Ins. Co., 21 AD 2d 609 - NY: Appellate Div., 1st Dept. (616) it is well settled that, “The professional surety does perform a valuable social function and its operation should not be rendered uneconomic or so difficult that its service may be denied absolutely, or effectively, to persons charged with crime."
It is well settled that the New York State Criminal Procedure Law 520.10 sets the standard and ultimate guidance for judges when it comes to making the decision on setting bail for a criminal defendant awaiting trial. Public policy and the laws of precedence make it clear that where the law is clear judicial discretion and or deference should not be a factor or utilized by the court. The NY State Criminal Procedure Law § 520.10 Bail and bail bonds; fixing of bail and authorized forms thereof. (b) The court may direct that the bail be posted in any one of two or more of the forms specified in subdivision one, designated in the alternative, and may designate different amounts varying with the forms.
“Separate from underutilizing the zero-cost to the taxpayer friendly commercial bail bond industry and bail bondsmen, we have maintained that these former practices, that are now thankfully officially disallowed, violated the United States and New York State Constitutions. The state and federal Constitutions strictly forbid ‘excessive bail’ which is what ‘cash bail’ option often offered the accused. In addition, the former practices also defined a certain type of prejudicial practices that only offered the accused unnecessary prolonged pretrial adjudication detention which is ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ that directly attacked an individual’s ‘sacred presumption of innocence’. We must never forget that this ‘sacred presumption of innocence’ is one of the most sacrosanct principles in our American criminal justice system, which truly maintains that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. In other words, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, each essential element of the criminal charge. By the court having the ultimate power of offering an often unobtainable goal of posting a ‘cash bail’ for most, the prosecution maintained the upper-hand by keeping an accused person incarcerated. Often when a defendant cannot see freedom in sight, even when innocent of charges many defendant often plead guilty just to either begin a sentence or get out of jail on a deal even if innocent. However, when a bail bond alternative is given it could much more securely, economically and fairly secure a defendant appearance in court and at zero cost to the Taxpayers,” added George Zouvelos.
The Eighth Amendment (Amendment VIII) to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights, prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishment. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that this amendment's Cruel and Unusual Punishment clause applies to the states as well as the phrases employed originated in the English Bill of Rights of 1689. The New York Constitution mirrors the 8th Amendment whereas Article 1. §5 clearly states that excessive bail shall not be required nor excessive fines imposed, nor shall cruel and unusual punishments be inflicted, nor shall witnesses be unreasonably detained.
Reuters News reporter Dan Wiessner today reports - Trial judges in New York are required by state law to set at least two forms of bail for defendants, as ruled by the state's top court Thursday. In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeals held that a trial judge erred when he set a $20,000 "cash-only" bail for Shaun McManus, and dismissed his petition to set a second form of bail, such as a bail bond or surety bond.
"Providing flexible bail alternatives to pretrial detainees -- who are presumptively innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt -- is consistent with the underlying purpose of article 520," the section of the criminal procedure law governing bail, Judge Victoria Graffeo wrote for the court.
Marika Meis of Bronx Defenders, who represented McManus, said cash-only bail is the most difficult form of bail for poor defendants to meet, while most can secure bonds for their release.
Taylor Pendergrass, an attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union who wrote a brief on McManus' behalf said in an interview that confusion over the law led some judges to routinely set cash-only bail, but Thursday's decision should clarify that the practice is illegal.
For More Information Please Contact The NYPBA at (917) 279-6321 Twitter #NYBAILBOSS, Facebook, The New York Bail Boss.
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Bail Bondsmen are dedicated men, women-family owned businesses & their 'bounty hunters' assisting to mitigate financial loses & taxpayer spending. Together they reduce taxpayer funded costly pretrial jailing & publically funded Pretrial Release Services.