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How Do I Get My Bail Back?

Criminal Court Guide

This guide is published by the Storobin & Spodek LLP in order to help viewers learn about cases in New York criminal courts. It is not intended to be legal advice, merely a way to help you understand your needs as your case moves along in New York Criminal courts. All the information, including the law, procedure and penal code is believed to be accurate, but can't be guaranteed due to possible changes and errors. The guide is for information and entertainment purposes only with the express expectation and agreement by the readers that it may not be acted upon in any way. No attorney-client relationship exists or can exist based on the offering of the information in this guide. We strongly suggest you retain the services of a competent criminal defense attorney to defend your rights.

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When a person is arrested often his personal property may be taken at the time of the arrest.  This property is then given to the NYPD Property Clerk Division. It is the clerks job to accept, catalog, safeguard, store and produce in Court as necessary any property that is taken from an individual. Whenever any property is taken the owner of the property is given what is called a “property voucher.” A property voucher is a pink receipt for the property taken.   The voucher may state the reason why the property is taken on top of the document.

Property is taken for four main reasons:

  1. Evidence/Investigatory - This is the main reason property is taken from individuals. Unfortunately when property is taken as evidence of the commission of a crime the District Attorneys office is going to hold the property untill the case is over.  Evidence property may be signed in/out in a log as it is used in connection with a criminal case.
  2. Safekeeping – This is property than an arrestee might have on him at the time of the arrest that has nothing to do with the commission of a crime. This can be returned upon a showing of the invoice and property identification. If the individual is incarcerated pending trial then an authorized individual can obtain the property with proper ID and documentary authorization.
  3. Forfeiture – Under Federal Law, NYS Law the New York City Administrative Code, the NYPD can seize property if it can be shown to be the proceeds or instrumentality of a crime. This is a separate proceeding done in the Civil Court. The burden of proof in the Civil action is a preponderance of the evidence. The outcome of the criminal case is irrelevant to the forfeiture action.
  4. Contraband – This is property that is illegal to own. This property may be held for evidence and destroyed when it is no longer needed for evidence.

Under the Rules of the City of New York (“RCNY”), if the property is held as arrest evidence, then the claimant  needs the following:

  1. Proper ID
  2. Voucher
  3. District Attorney Release – The District Attorney must respond to your request for a release within 15 days.  If you are denied a release, you are entitled to a written explanation of why your property is being held and to have a supervising DA review the decision.

This request must be made within 120 days of the termination of the criminal case.

    Under the RCNY, if the property is being held as investigatory evidence, the claimant needs the following:

    1. Proper ID
    2. Voucher
    3. Letter on Official Letterhead from Investigative Officer releasing the property.

    Under the RCNY, if the property is being held as Safekeeping evidence, the claimant needs the following:

    1. Proper ID
    2. Voucher

    This can be done at the Precinct where the property was taken or the Property Clerks office in the borough of the arraignment.

    Property that is taken as Contraband may not come back to a claimant unless his/her lawyer can argue that your possession of the property was lawful.

    Property this is subject to a Forfeiture action, the claimant must first request a hearing at OATH.

    New York City Property Clerk Offices and Numbers:

    1 Police Plaza, Rm. 5-20
    New York, NY 10038

    301 Gold Street
    Brooklyn, NY 11201

    215 E161st St., Rm. C-27
    Bronx, NY 10451

    47-07 Pierson Place
    Long Is. City, NY 11101

    Staten Island
    1 Edgewater Plz., Rm 521
    Staten Island, NY 10305

    The Storobin Law Firm
    305 Broadway
    New York, N.Y. 10007
    Phone: (646) 350-0601
    Fax: (646) 517-0253

    The Storobin Law Firm
    26 Court Street, Suite 913
    Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201
    Phone: (718) 285-6978
    Fax: (646) 517-0253

    The Storobin Law Firm
    104-70 Queens Blvd., Suite 300
    Brooklyn, N.Y. 11375
    Phone: 285-6978
    Fax: (646) 517-0253