If you're detained in New York City, your bail, in some cases, may be posted online. That's good news, if you're eligible.
The less-good news is that online bail won't be available in many cases until judges routinely permit bail to be posted by credit card.
How to Pay Online Bail
You can find instructions for paying bail online at the New York City Department of Correction's website.
If you've been detained by the Court, your friends and family members can see whether you're eligible for online bail by entering your name into the Department of Correction inmate lookup. If the "Pay Bail" button on your web page is NOT grayed out (unlike the button above), then you're eligible for online bail.
You'll be eligible for online bail if:
- The judge stated that bail may be paid by credit card; and
- Bail is set at $2,500 or less; and
- The judge doesn't require a "surety hearing" to prove that your bail comes from legitimate sources; and
- You've been assigned to a jail housing facility.
Pros and Cons
Since assignment to a jail housing facility takes many hours, you can be released much quicker if a family member or friend can post bail at your arraignment. If that doesn't happen, though, your bail can be posted online.
One advantage of online bail is that, because it's posted by credit card, you can be released if your people lack sufficient cash.
Regardless of the outcome of your case, if you make all your court appearances, the City will return your bail to the person who posted it when your case is finished, minus a non-refundable 2.49% transaction fee.
Bail can be paid 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And online bail can be conveniently posted from anywhere – even halfway around the world. Your people don't have to wait for hours at Rikers Island or one of the other City jails.
Multiple people may use multiple credits cards to pay your bail. However, all transactions adding up to the full amount of your bail must be completed within 24 hours of each other.
Sometimes, the Department of Correction will approve bail posted by credit card, but not release you. This might be because "holds" from other cases – possibly from other jurisdictions – are detaining you. In such situations it might be better not to post bail – discuss this with your lawyer.
Ask for Credit Card Bail
Credit card bail is a relatively new form of bail in New York City. Judges typically don't grant it unless your lawyer makes a specific request.
Some judges are reluctant to grant credit card bail, because they feel that people are less likely to return to court if bail has been posted by credit card, as opposed to cash or "bail bond". While judges routinely grant bail in the form of cash or bond, they typically grant credit card bail only if a specific request is made.
If you know before arraignment that it will be difficult or impossible to post cash bail of $2,500 or less, ask your lawyer to request credit-card bail as an alternative to cash. If granted, your friends and family members can post your bail by credit card, from anywhere, online.