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At the Station House

Criminal Court Arraignment

At The Station House

When someone is arrested in Nassau County he is first taken to one of the Eight Precincts located in Nassau County.  If a person is arrested by a Village Police Department, he will first be processed by the officers from the Village and then he will be taken to the local Precinct for further processing.

The Eight Precincts are located as follows:

First Precinct, 900 Merrick Road, Baldwin, NY  11510, telephone 516-573-6100

Second Precinct, 7700 Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury, NY  11797, telephone 516-573-6200

Third Precinct, 214 Hillside Avenue, Williston Park, NY  11596, telephone 516-573-6300

Fourth Precinct, 1699 Broadway, Hewlett, NY  11557, telephone 516-573-6400

Fifth Precinct, 1655 Dutch Broadway, Elmont, NY  11003, telephone 516-573-6500

Sixth Precinct, 100 Community Drive, Manhasset, NY  11030, telephone 516-573-6600

Seventh Precinct, 3636 Merrick Road, Seaford, NY  11783, telephone 516-573-6700

Eighth Precinct, 286 Wantagh Avenue, Levittown, NY  11756, telephone 516-573-6800

At the police station, the police personnel will prepare a wide variety of paperwork associated with an arrest, including the initial charging documents.  Where deemed necessary, the police will assign a Detective to a case for further investigation who may seek to obtain statements from a person arrested and who may also speak with witnesses.

In some cases, the police actually have the authority to set stationhouse bail, or an amount of money that would have to be posted in order for the accused to be released pending action in court.  In other cases, the person arrested will remain in custody until the matter is brought before a judge at a proceeding called an arraignment (first appearance).

Criminal Court Arraignment

The arraignment is where a person accused of a crime is formally and publicly brought before a judge and the judge determines how much, if any bail is required in order to make sure that the person returns to court on the dates set by the court.

Criminal Court arraignments in Nassau County take place in the Nassau County District Court, located at 99 Main Street in Hempstead.  Arraignments in Nassau County District Court take place daily, from 9AM to 5PM.  The arrest to arraignment process is not usually as long a process as it is in New York City.  In New York City, the arrest to arraignment time is usually about 24 hours.  Nassau County does not take typically take as long.  It is even possible in Nassau County to be arrested in the morning and see a judge before Court closes in the afternoon.

Unlike the New York City Police, the Nassau County Police are actually quite likely to issue desk appearance tickets (DATs) or set police station bail for people charged with misdemeanor offenses.  A Desk Appearance Ticket permits a person accused of a crime to come to court to answer the charges at a future date without the need to appear before a judge first for the possible imposition of bail.  There is absolutely no guarantee of a DAT, especially in domestic violence cases, but the likelihood of getting a DAT on misdemeanor charges is far greater in Nassau County than in New York City. 

Arraignment is not a trial.  Arraignments are not really an opportunity for either side to present evidence or call witnesses.  Arraignments are not proceedings at which guilt or innocence is meant to be determined.  Judges in arraignments typically make their decisions about whether or not to set bail and if so how much based on three primary factors: seriousness of the offense charged, prior criminal history, and community ties.

The more serious the offense charged, the more likely bail will be set and the higher it is likely to be.  The greater the criminal history of the accused, the more likely bail will be set and the higher it is likely to be.  The more the accused is connected to Nassau County, however (employed, homeowner, etc.), the less likely bail will be set and the lower the bail is likely to be.

How any individual case is evaluated according to these factors is an extremely subjective determination.  Different judges are likely to vary widely with respect to their bail decisions.  The law accepts this fact of life and even provides that judges are accorded a wide latitude.  Appealing the amount of bail set at an arraignment is not often a successful venture, because the law presumes that the bail set at arraignment is the "correct" bail.  The law accepts that the bail determination process is highly subjective and does not generally want to become embroiled in constant appeals and writs over these subjective determinations.  In some cases in which the bail set is so out of proportion to what might be expected under the circumstances there may be a legal basis to challenge the bail, or when there is a change in circumstances in the case itself (new evidence) there may be a basis to apply to change the bail.

At an arraignment the judge will take some time to review the file to become familiar with the nature of the charges and get a brief idea of the background of the person accused.  The judge will then usually ask to hear from the Assistant District Attorney who may provide a brief summary of the case and make a recommendation as to bail.  Then the Judge will ask to hear from the defense lawyer.  At this moment the defense lawyer has a brief opportunity to explain to the judge why his client is a good candidate to return on his own without bail or why a particular bail amount would be better if the client can't make the amount requested by the Assistant District Attorney.  Occasionally, the defense lawyer will quickly provide background information to the Judge suggesting that the case against the accused is not as strong as might seem.  The defense lawyer may also more deeply explore the issue of the accused's ties to the community.

The arraignment courtroom itself may seem rather confusing to the uninitiated.  Arraignments tend to be rather quicker than most people imagine they would be and there is a fair amount of legal jargon thrown around, including various legal notices and references to sections of the Criminal Procedure Law.  The people accused will sometimes come out before the bench, two at a time, handcuffed together.

Nassau County tends to scrutinize eligibility for public defender services more carefully than other counties, and those who are determined to be ineligible for public defender services will be told to return to court with a private attorney.  In Nassau County, when the Judge makes the determination of ineligibility for public defender services, it is taken seriously.

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