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California Ends Money Bail

At the end August, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that will eliminate cash bail in the state of California. The new change will go into effect in October 2019. The new bill goes further than any other state in the nation to remove money from pretrial detention.

In a public statement, Gov. Brown said, “Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly.”

Senate Bill 10 will switch bail with “risk assessments” of the accused and non-monetary conditions of release. Counties in the state will create local agencies that will evaluate people arrested on felony charges to determine their likelihood of returning for court hearings and their chances of being arrested again. Risk levels are broken down as follows:

  • Low Risk: These individuals will be released with the least restrictive non-monetary conditions possible
  • Medium Risk: These individuals can be released or held depending on local standards
  • High Risk: These individuals would remain in custody until their arraignment

Advocates seeking to abolish bail argue that too many defendants are forced to remain in custody because they can’t afford to bail out. In fact, close to two-thirds of inmates in California jails are being held while they await trial.

New Jersey and New Mexico have adopted policies that circumvent the for-profit bail industry. However, neither state has fully eliminated cash bail.

Although SB 10 was approved by the Legislature, it was heavily opposed by the bail industry and some former supporters of the bill. Opponents argued that amendments to the final version would unfairly expand the number of suspects in pretrial detention.

The American Civil Liberties Union of California cited provisions in the bill that give judges greater discretion during the arraignment hearing. The bill also details a process for “preventive detention,” which blocks a defendant’s release pending a trial if the judge believes there are no conditions that would ensure public safety or the defendant’s appearance in court.

Speaking about SB10, attorney Joe Coimbra said, “While it is sad that certain people will have to sit in jail longer than they otherwise would have had they been able to post bail, the law does have the potential to set right certain inequities that existed between low-income and high-earning individuals. At best, it provides an opportunity to steer your financial resources in a superior direction, which is, investing in a great attorney to beat your case altogether.”

Get Help From an Attorney Today

Have you been accused of a crime? Do you need an attorney who can defend your legal rights? If so, you should call our legal team in West Covina to find out how we can assist you. At Coimbra Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping clients in California with their criminal cases. We can assess your situation and determine a strong legal strategy that will secure the justice you deserve.

Call (626) 827-7222 to schedule a free consultation with our West Covina criminal defense lawyer. We are here to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.