Buffalo, NY Bail Hearings: Securing Your Release from Jail
Securing Your Release from Jail in Buffalo, NY
Getting arrested and taken to jail can be an incredibly stressful and scary experience. As soon as those handcuffs go on, your mind races with questions: How long will I be here? What’s going to happen to me? Will I be able to get out?
This article will walk you through what to expect after an arrest in Buffalo, NY, with a focus on bail hearings and what it takes to secure your release from jail. We’ll cover:
- An overview of the booking and bail process
- Factors judges consider when setting bail
- Options for posting bail and getting released
- Changes to NY bail laws and reforms
- What to do if you can’t afford bail
We’ll also link to resources for finding a criminal defense lawyer in Buffalo, who can help advise and represent you through the process.
Arrest and Booking in Buffalo
Once you’re arrested in Buffalo, you’ll be taken to the city’s central booking facility located at 190 Franklin Street. Here, you’ll be fingerprinted, photographed, and asked questions about your identity and criminal history.
Police will search you and confiscate most of your belongings, though you may be able to keep certain items like eyeglasses or prescription medications after inspection. You’ll likely have to change into a jail jumpsuit.
Booking officers will also ask you questions about your physical and mental health to determine if you need medical care or supervision. Be honest about any health conditions or medications you take.
The booking process usually takes 2-4 hours. Once it’s complete, you’ll be taken to a holding cell to await your arraignment.
Arraignment and Bail Hearings in Buffalo City Court
In Buffalo, if you’re arrested for a crime in the city limits, you’ll be taken for arraignment at Buffalo City Court. Arraignment must happen within 24 hours of arrest.
At your arraignment, you’ll appear before a judge who will:
- Read the formal charges against you
- Ask if you understand the charges and your rights
- Consider whether to set bail or release you without bail
The prosecutor may also offer a plea deal at this stage. It’s recommended to consult with a defense attorney before entering any plea. Public defenders are available if you can’t afford a lawyer.
The judge will then decide what happens next:
- Released on Own Recognizance (ROR) – You’re released without bail, but must promise to return for your next court date.
- Bail is Set – The judge requires you to pay bail to secure your release while your case proceeds.
- Remanded – You’re ordered to stay in jail until the case is resolved.
Let’s take a closer look at how bail works in Buffalo.
How Judges Set Bail in Buffalo After Arrest
Prior to 2020, New York judges had wide discretion in setting bail for any crime. They could consider factors like:
- Severity of charges
- Criminal history
- Employment status
- Ties to community
- Flight risk
However, NY passed sweeping bail reforms in 2020 that restricted or eliminated cash bail for many non-violent crimes. Judges now primarily consider likelihood to return to court when setting bail in NY.
They can still set bail for violent felonies like:
- Major drug offenses
- Major gun/weapons charges
A Buffalo News analysis found that since reforms, only 1% of defendants released without bail were rearrested for a violent felony.
Bail amounts in Buffalo vary widely based on the charges and prior record. For minor non-violent crimes like petty theft or low-level drug possession, bail may be just $500-$2000.
For more serious violent felonies, bail can be set at $10,000-$100,000 or higher. Judges may also impose non-monetary conditions like electronic monitoring.
Options for Posting Bail in Buffalo
If the judge sets bail at your arraignment, you typically have just a few options:
1. Pay the Full Bail Amount
You or family/friends can pay the entire bail amount set by the judge in cash. This guarantees your release from jail.
The funds will be returned after the case concludes, minus administrative fees, provided you made all court appearances.
2. Use a Commercial Bail Bondsman
Bail bondsmen can post your bail for a fee, usually 10% of the full bail amount. You don’t get this fee back.
Bondsmen may also require collateral like a house or car. And you may have to check in regularly pre-trial.
3. Use a Charitable Bail Fund
Some non-profits, like the Liberty Fund, operate charitable bail funds to help those who can’t afford bail.
Their assistance comes at no cost, but funds are limited. The judge must approve using a bail fund.
4. Request a Bail Reduction Hearing
If bail seems unreasonably high, your lawyer can request a bail reduction hearing and argue for lower bail.
Judges don’t always grant these hearings, but it’s an option if the bail amount seems out of reach.
What Happens if You Can’t Afford Bail in Buffalo?
Unfortunately, if you can’t pay the full bail amount or use one of the options above, you’ll remain in jail until your case finishes.
You may wait in jail for weeks or months until trial or entering a plea. This is why bail reform advocates have fought against cash bail systems.
While jailed pre-trial, you’ll likely be housed in Erie County Holding Center, a separate facility from state prisons. Conditions are unpleasant, but generally safer than prison.
You’ll meet with your public defender during this time to discuss defense strategy. They may file motions seeking your release.
Finding a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Buffalo
Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your corner can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
A lawyer can potentially get charges reduced or dismissed pre-trial. Or negotiate an advantageous plea deal.
If bail is set, they can also advise on bail payment options and request bail reductions.
The Buffalo Metropolitan Bar Association offers a lawyer referral service to find attorneys. Costs are $25 for a half hour consultation.
Some options to consider hiring:
- Mattar Law Firm – Well-regarded criminal defense firm in Buffalo. Offers free case evaluations.
- The Law Offices of Pullano & Farrow – Experienced defense attorneys handling state and federal charges.
- LoTempio Law Group – Full service criminal defense firm with over 60 years combined experience.
- Walsh & Sirignano LLP – Former prosecutors providing aggressive defense in Western NY.
Be sure to ask about payment plans if needed, as most lawyers offer flexible options.
Public defenders are also available if you cannot afford private counsel. Though they have high caseloads, they are often skilled defense attorneys.