Let’s say that you’ve been arrested for a crime in the state of New York.

The judge sets a bail amount at your arraignment – something you can afford.

Then, you get the bad news.

The judge orders a “72-hour surety,” which means that you’ll stay behind bars for 72 hours, even though you can afford to post bail.

What is the definition of “surety” and why do judges in New York require it?

State law in New York basically requires a criminal defendant to prove that the source of his or her bail money is a legal and legitimate source.

New York’s lawmakers do not want illegal drug money, extorted money, money obtained in a robbery, or any other illegal proceeds to be used to bail out criminal defendants who are awaiting trial in this state.


Therefore, judges in New York order surety examinations to determine if a defendant’s bail money has been legally obtained or if it is the product of criminal activity.

If you are charged with a crime, and a surety hearing or examination is ordered, you will have to prove that your bail money is legally obtained money, and in Westchester, Dutchess, Putnam, Orange, or Rockland County, you’ll need the help of an experienced Peekskill criminal defense attorney.

How is a surety examination conducted, and how can a Peekskill criminal defense lawyer help?

The first question that a New York court will ask is, “Does the person providing the defendant’s bail money have a legitimate and genuine relationship with the defendant?”

The court wants a defendant’s bail money to come from a relative, a co-worker or employer, a neighbor, or a true personal friend – and not from a pusher, a “pimp,” or some other criminal associate.


For a criminal defendant in New York, the way to make it successfully through a surety examination is to avoid doing anything that might look suspicious – and to make sure that your relatives and friends are not doing anything that appears suspicious, either.

Sometimes, the problem with surety is that friends and relatives panic when a loved one is placed under arrest, and in order to raise bail money, they start rapidly transferring and moving money around.

For example, let’s say that you’ve been charged with a crime in Westchester County, and a judge sets your bail at $50,000.

Your family members can come up with $35,000, and they manage to borrow another $10,000 from their own friends.

Then, they obtain a $5,000 loan.

They dump the entire $50,000 into a single bank account, and then they take the funds back out to post your bail.

What’s happened is that a lot of people who care about you have come to your aid, but what a New York court will see is a burst of chaotic financial activity – a lot of money changing hands in a rapid and disorganized way.

Even if your friends and family acted honestly, and even though the bail money was obtained honestly, it can be difficult for a New York judge to be certain of that without ordering a prosecutor to conduct a thorough surety investigation.


If you find yourself charged with a crime in New York, and a surety examination is ordered, what can you do to make it easier for the court to verify where your bail money came from?

Is there any way to avoid entirely a surety investigation?

This is where a skilled criminal defense attorney can help, and having an attorney’s help will be imperative.

Why will you need an attorney’s help for a surety examination?

Because if you cannot prove that your bail money was obtained legitimately, the judge can order you to remain in custody.

And if your family and friends have given money to a bail bondsman, there’s no way to ensure that their money will be returned.

A “72-hour surety” means that the prosecuting attorney has 72 hours to investigate the source of your bail money.

After 72 hours, the prosecutor may either consent to your release on bail, if he or she believes that your bail money is legitimate, or the prosecutor may request a surety hearing.

Thus, the best way to deal with the surety issue is for your attorney to show the prosecutor – as early in the case as possible – that your bail money has been honestly obtained.


Proving that your bail money was honestly acquired will require some effort from an accused defendant and his or her relatives and friends.

Those relatives and friends may have to provide several years’ worth of bank statements, tax returns, and other pertinent financial documents.

All of that information must then be organized and prepared, with your attorney’s help, to present to the prosecutor.

When a New York prosecutor is presented with well-organized documentation and proof that your bail funds have been legitimately acquired, that prosecutor will not demand a surety hearing.

Thus, in terms of the surety issue, anyone can provide bail money for anyone else in the state of New York, but the closer the relationship, the easier it will be for a New York judge to approve a defendant’s release on bail.


If you are arrested and charged with any crime in the state of New York, don’t resist the police in any way, but politely insist on your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney present during any questioning.

Don’t confess to anything or agree to any deal with a prosecutor before you’ve obtained the advice of a criminal defense lawyer in New York.

Your attorney will explain and protect your rights, outline your legal options, fight aggressively on your behalf, and bring your case to its best possible conclusion.

Remember that an arrest is not the equivalent of a conviction.

If you are charged with a crime, you can only be convicted if the state proves your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Your freedom and future are priorities, so if you face any criminal charge in New York, get the legal help you need. You have that right.

By: Kimberly Pelesz

Family law and criminal defense attorney Kimberly A. Pelesz received a B.S. degree magna cum laude and an M.P.A. degree summa cum laude from Binghamton University. She earned her J.D. from Pace University School of Law in White Plains, where she was selected for Phi Alpha Delta. Her charitable activities include work with My Sisters’ Place in White Plains and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Humane Education Taskforce.

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