In 2019, California’s state legislature passed, SB10, a bill designed to eliminate the state’s cash bail system completely. While it was set to take effect in October of last year, voters circulated petitions designed to allow citizens to vote on this important piece of legislation and now in the November 2020 election, everyone registered to vote in the state will have the opportunity to vote on the future of California’s bail structure, deciding whether the state will maintain its existing bail system or implement a new bail-free system.
About SB10’s Cash-Free Bail System
Part of the reason SB10 passed was because the appellate court ruled that the California’s bail structure as it stands now is discriminatory towards the poor by failing to take into account the defendant’s ability to pay the bail. The new law would eliminate bail and instead require most people charged with misdemeanors to be released within 12 hours of arrest.
Those charged with felonies or misdemeanor domestic violence, DUIs with particularly high BACs, third and subsequent DUIs or DUIs that result in injury would need to undergo a risk assessment by Pretrial Services within 48 hours of their arrest, designed to evaluate how likely the suspect would be to appear in court and how dangerous they are to the public. Low risk suspects would be released, medium risk suspects would be released with some restrictions and high risk suspects would be held until their arraignment and may continue to be held until their case has come to a complete close. An attorney would be critical in helping to ensure defendants determined to be high risk would not stay in jail indefinitely.
The Pros and Cons of Changing California’s Bail Structure
While most people agree that California’s bail structure is not ideal the way it is now, SB10 is hotly debated and many, including a number of lawyers in Vista, believe it could be even more problematic. Proponents of the bill argue that it would:
- put everyone on equal footing despite their income
- reduce the jail population by freeing low risk offenders within 12 hours of their arrest
- ensure that high risk offenders couldn’t just buy their freedom like they can now if bail is offered
On the other hand, opponents argue that SB10 will:
- still result in disparities between rick and poor since the risk assessment evaluation will most likely consider whether or not someone has a steady job
- increase the jail population by leaving anyone considered to be a high risk offender in jail indefinitely, particularly in cases where the prosecutor never ends up filing charges
- result in drastic differences from county to county when it comes to who is released and who is left behind bars since the law allows each jurisdiction to define their risk assessment procedures
It’s worth noting that the current bail system has already been modified to take into account the defendant’s ability to pay and many misdemeanor suspects, in San Diego County even first time DUI suspects must post $2,500.00 bail, are already released without being booked in jail.
Until the election is completed and the votes are totaled California’s court system will continue to operate with a bail system. If you are arrested and charged with a crime, a criminal defense attorney can help arrange for reduced bail. You can schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss by calling (760) 643-4050.
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