When you or someone you love is arrested in Manhattan, knowing the particulars of the borough’s criminal justice system will help you understand when a lawyer is necessary and what to do to make the process go smoother. Here is a quick guide to the arraignment process in Manhattan:

  • The arrest: After being arrested, the arrestee will be transported to the nearest NYPD precinct and placed in a holding cell while the processing is started. This involves taking the arrestee’s fingerprints and assigning an arrest number.
  • Issuing a desk appearance ticket: For minor offences by individuals with no outstanding arrests, bench warrants, or other notices or offenses, the ticketing officer may issue a desk appearance ticket, indicating the date the arrestee must return for their arraignment.
  • Transport to central booking and arraignment: Anyone denied a desk appearance ticket will be transported to Manhattan’s central booking (located at 100 Centre Street) for further processing by an arraignment judge. Usually this will occur within 24 hours. During the arraignment, the judge will inform the arrestee of the charges against them and determine bail.

How Do I Find Someone Who’s Been Arrested?

To find someone who you suspect has been arrested, call Manhattan central booking and find out their arrest number and arraignment date and time. You can also phone 311.

Often, it may take several tries to get through to Manhattan central booking. Either the phone will be busy or no one will answer. You can also go in person and speak with the arraignment clerk.

When to Call a Lawyer

If you’ve been arrested or have been contacted by a relative or friend who has, your first step should be to contact a lawyer right away. A lawyer is allowed to be present at the precinct during initial processing and can give the arrestee valuable information about their rights.

A criminal defense lawyer is critical during the arraignment process. The arrestee will be given time before the arraignment to consult with a criminal defense lawyer — Manhattan’s central booking facility has an area where lawyers can see their clients through a glass window. If a lawyer is not present, a public defender will represent the arrestee. Page updated on 11/14/13.

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