Gov. Andrew Cuomo today signed legislation that will allow the creation of charitable organizations that could post up to $2,000 in bail for low-income defendants charged with misdemeanor crimes. The law takes effect in 90 days.
“It is unacceptable for defendants to have to spend time in jail for low-level crimes they may have not committed simply because they are unable to meet the bail requirement,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This law … will help ensure that the state’s justice system works for all defendants regardless of their income.”
Before this legislation, organizations that desired to post bail on behalf of a defendant had to meet state requirements designed to regulate for-profit corporations engaged full-time in the bail-bond business. The law will allow a new type of entity, charitable bail organizations, to function with fewer requirements but still under the oversight and regulation of the Department of Financial Services.
Charitable bond organizations will be allowed to provide no more than $2,000 in bail for defendants charged with one or more misdemeanors who are financially unable to post bail. They will be required to register as a 501(c)(3) organization and may not charge a premium or fee for their services.
“Justice should not depend on the size of your wallet,” Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry, D-Elmhurst, said. “Charitable bail organizations could help thousands of New Yorkers who would otherwise languish in jails, often losing their jobs and facing long-term collateral consequences, just because they can’t afford a small amount of bail to fight their case.”