How to Prepare for Your first Court Appearance in District Court in New York
Determine where your case will be heard.If you or your loved one was arrested in Nassau County the court will hear your case in Hempstead at 100 Main St.
If your case is in Suffolk, it will be heard in the Cohalan Court Complex in Central Islip on County Road 17 (Carleton Ave)
After determining the correct court you need to go to the correct courtroom. If the case is on for arraignment and the person is still in police Custody in Nassau the case will be heard in Arraignment A on the first floor. If the person was given a Desk Appearance ticket (DAT) it is heard in Arraignment B (same floor) in Suffolk all arraignments are handled in Room D11 on the first floor.
What do you need for arraignment?If you can, especially if you are appearing on behalf of a loved one, get to court EARLY. Ask to speak to the probation or release personnel from Probation. This person is assessing the risk of flight and danger to the community that your loved one or you pose.
Confirm any information that he received from the defendant and also provide him with a pay stub, proof of residency, rent receipt or mortgage payment book in his name, birth certificate, proof of school attendance or a Diploma and any other documents you feel the court should consider in determining bail.
What will happen inside the courtroom?Assuming you retained a lawyer, the accused will be brought before the court. You should stand at the back rail in support (a court officer or your lawyer will show you where to stand). The court will formally advise the defendant of the charges and will ask him for a plea, or if it is a felony, will ask if he wants a "felony hearing or 180.80 day. He can also ask for a felony conference. The court will then consider bail. He will listen to the Assistant D.A.'s recommendation and to the defense request. Be sure your lawyer knows how long your friend has lived in the county/state. Be sure he informs the court of your friend's job or school.
If no one retained a lawyer, then in Nassau a Legal Aid Society or Nassau Bar 18b panel attorney will stand in. In Suffolk, a lawyer is not automatically stand in and if your loved one asks for an attorney, he will have to wait around a while until he is arraigned with an assigned lawyer.
Finally the court will set down another court date.
How do I post bail?You can post bail in one of two ways.
A. You can put up cash. If the defendant returns to court, then at the end of the case, if he is convicted of something, you will get back 97% of the money you put up. If he is acquitted or the charges are dropped or dismissed, you will get back 100% of the bail money. If your loved one fails to show up, the entire amount put up will be surrendered.
B. You can post a bond. In this case you will contact a "Bail Bondsman" who is licensed. He will take anywhere from 5-10% of the bail amount from you in cash, and then he will accept a deed or other collateral against an insurance policy that the defendant will return. If the defendant does return, then at the end of the case, the bondsman will return the collateral. If the defendant absconds then the insurance company that put up the bond will seize the collateral.
Once the bondsman has worked out the paperwork, he will go to court and "bond" the defendant out of jail.
What happens after arraignment?At the end of step 2 above, the court set down a new court date. This is not a trial or a hearing date. It is for a conference to see if the case can be resolved and that discovery requirements of both sides are being met. There may be many dates like this one. Your lawyer should tell you if your case is going to be on trial or not and if he doesn't tell you, chances are your case is on for conference.