Money Bail Abolished in California

In late Summer 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a landmark criminal justice bill, Senate Bill No. 11, abolishing cash bail in criminal cases. California is the first state to abolish the cash bail system in criminal cases. Beginning in October 2019, the law now gives judges the discretion to decide who is released on his or her own recognizance or who must remain in custody pending a plea bargain or trial following an arrest for a criminal offense, whether misdemeanor or felony. The new law can be found here.  

Up until the law was passed, accused defendants had to buy their release from jail through a bail bondsman or with cash. Now, individuals will be released after arraignment with no bail, on their own recognizance or under supervised conditions.

Hailed as a victory for criminal justice reform advocates, the elimination of cash bail was one of many criminal justice reforms passed by the outgoing Governor Brown. Opponents of cash bail systems argued for years that the cash bail system disadvantages the poor and overcrowds jails with defendants accused of minor offenses. Judges must now determine who is a public safety threat or a flight risk when making custody determinations.

Bail Schedule Abolished

Bail in California used to be established according to a fixed bail schedule published by Los Angeles County or other initiating law enforcement agencies. Judges considered the charge and the defendant’s prior criminal record and used that information to determine a cash bail amount.  The judges had no discretion in setting bail. They were required to set bail according to the schedule. If the defendant was unable to pay cash bail, he or she was able to hire a bail bonds person who would pay the cash bail for a fee.

New Risk Assessment System to be Established

When the new law goes into effect in October 2019, judges will determine bail as follows:

  • Individuals charged with a non-violent minor or misdemeanor charge, if considered a low to medium risk, will be released 12 hours after they are arrested and booked, before they see the judge for an arraignment. No cash bail will be imposed. The individuals will be given a date to appear in court for their arraignment.
  • Individuals considered medium to high risk and who are accused of committing a violent offense or are repeat offenders, will remain in custody (jail) until a bail hearing or trial. No bail will be set, especially if the defendant failed to appear in court before. To make their assessment, judges will consider the accused person’s criminal history and nature of the offense.

Charged With a Crime in Los Angeles?

If you have been arrested or under investigation for a criminal offense in California, whether state, federal, or international, seek the knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys to assist you.

At the Law Offices of James E. Blatt, we are committed to providing zealous representation of our client’s best interests. Our attorneys have been involved in every type of criminal defense, from misdemeanors to felonies to complex international prosecutions. We successfully represent clients in the investigation, plea bargain, trial, and appeal stages in state, federal, and international court.

Proudly serving the greater Los Angeles metro area, along with Beverly Hills and Encino, the Law Office of James E. Blatt is available to begin legal representation immediately following an arrest. Speak to a lawyer now. Call toll-free at (877) 546-2528 to request a confidential consultation right away.