Failure to Appear Across New York Regions

This study examines failure to appear in New York, a topic with important implications for the delivery of pretrial justice. It explores three primary questions: the nature of pretrial release decisions, the variation in FTA rates across different regions and demographics, and the predictors of FTA after controlling for various factors. 

Why it matters: Under New York law, judges are permitted to set pretrial conditions solely for the purpose of ensuring a person’s return to court. It is therefore important to understand how often people fail to appear (FTA), as well as the factors linked to higher or lower FTA rates.

What questions are addressed: 1) What types of cases are released at arraignment (as opposed to facing bail or pretrial detention)? 2) How do FTA rates differ by region, the current charge, criminal history, and demographics? 3) After controlling for other characteristics, what factors predict higher or lower FTA rates?

How we did this: Using public data from the Office of Court Administration (OCA) and New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), we calculated FTA rates for all cases arraigned in 2022. Multivariate regression models were then used to identify unique predictors of FTA. All analyses were conducted statewide and broken out by region (NYC, NYC Suburbs, Upstate).

Key Findings:

In 2022, New York’s statewide FTA rate for released cases was 17%.

  • Charge Severity: Violent felonies had the lowest FTA rate of any charge severity (10 percentage points lower than misdemeanors). The statewide FTA rate for violent felonies was only 13%.
  • Charge Type: FTA rates varied significantly based on the specific charge, with petit larceny, misdemeanor drug possession, and burglary having the highest rates, while DWI had the lowest. The FTA risk ranged from 5% for DWI to 28% for petit larceny statewide.
  • Criminal History: Having a pending case and multiple prior misdemeanors were predictors of FTA, with a pending case increasing FTA risk by 10 percentage points statewide.
  • Demographics: No demographic characteristic was clearly associated with FTA. After controlling for other factors, Black, Hispanic, and white people had the same likelihood of FTA (17%). For violent felonies, statewide FTA rates also did not vary by race/ethnicity (13% for Black and 14% for Hispanic and white people).

Please see the report’s conclusion for seven key lessons for policymakers.