The California Supreme Court issued a ruling in late August barring judges from using state “bail schedules,” which are set amounts based on the charge. The high court says the pre-determined system violates the rights of low-income individuals arrested on felony charges.
The decision backed a landmark ruling by the First District Court of Appeal, challenging the state’s cash bail and pretrial detention system’s constitutionality. The 2018 appeals court decision threw out bail set at $350,000 for a man accused of stealing a $7 bottle of cologne.
How does bail work?
Once a person is arrested and charged with a felony or misdemeanor, there are eight potential stages in their case. The second stage is a bail hearing, which can include:
- Reviewing the initial bail amount within three days after an arrest
- Filing a motion to reduce bail if the defendant is still in custody
- The hearing may include witnesses and documents
- Judge sets a bail amount or releases the defendant on their own recognizance
- Judge sets or vacates future court dates
If a bail amount is set, defendants must post bail with cash, bail bonds, or property bonds. The bail agency usually will post the bond for 10% down (some may go lower). You do not get the money back. Have a former Prosecutor on your side. If you have been arrested in San Diego County and need the best possible outcome contact the Law Offices of Mark Deniz at (858) 751-4384.
Bail schedules are arbitrary
In its August ruling, the state’s highest court validated the appeals court ruling barring judges from relying on bail schedules. The 2018 ruling was, in effect, put on hold pending the Supreme Court review. Now that justices have weighed in, the earlier order is considered “binding.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says that means trial courts across California must now consider each defendant’s circumstances and their ability to pay when deciding the amount of their bail. Becerra says the ruling is a “critical step” for fairness in the state’s bail system.
Voters reject Prop 25
While the California Supreme Court decision is an important step in modifying how judges set bail, voters soundly defeated an attempt to abolish the state’s cash bail system. Proposition 25 was rejected by more than 55% of those who cast ballots this year.
Prop 25 sought to enact Senate Bill 10, which the state legislature passed in 2018 to replace cash bail with a system giving judges broader authority. The measure was supposed to go into effect last year but was strongly opposed by the bail industry. It was then put on hold to let voters decide. Prop 25 supporters say they’ll try again in the future.
Experienced representation is vital for a fair bail amount
Across the U.S., data shows 61% of those awaiting trial remain behind bars, many because they cannot afford bail amounts. In California, that rate is even higher, at 64%. Many of those people face losing their jobs and other severe consequences even though they haven’t been convicted of a crime.
If charged with a criminal offense, it’s crucial to work with an experienced defense attorney who understands the criminal justice system. A lawyer who is also a former prosecutor will aggressively build your defense and fight for a fair bail amount until your case can be heard in court. Have a former Prosecutor on your side. If you have been arrested in San Diego County and need the best possible outcome contact the Law Offices of Mark Deniz at (858) 751-4384.