Last year the California legislature passed SB10, which was designed to phase out the cash bail system. Unfortunately, the implementation of this has been put on hold. When you consider that six out of ten people who are arrested in California never face criminal charges, or that as many as 48,000 county jail inmates have never been convicted, it is frustrating to see that people are in jail just because they cannot afford to pay bail for their release.
Read on to learn how this change to the cash bail system was supposed to work and what has happened instead. If you are in need of the advice of a criminal defense attorney, contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 for a free legal consultation.
The Change Puts Decisions in the Hands of a Judge
The current cash bail system works this way: If a person has enough money to get bailed out, then they can walk free while their charges are pending. If they do not, then they are stuck in jail. The California legislature determined that a person’s income or assets should not be the deciding factor in whether they are safe to walk free.
This is why they put the power into the hands of the judge. Instead of putting a monetary amount on each case, the judge will evaluate each person that comes before them. The judge will determine if they believe the defendant is a risk, or if they are dangerous to the community. The judge will decide if the person is safe to be released – based on the facts and not on how much money the defendant has.
Some People Did Not Support SB10
This change to the bail system was designed to help level the playing field between the rich and the poor, but some people found it objectionable. Those most critical of it were people who worked in the bail industry, people who were members of victims’ rights groups, and certain law enforcement agencies. They argued that the changes would result in more criminals being released on the streets.
They also say that it would increase costs as more people would fail to show up for court if there was no money on the line. Finally, they said that counties would have to pick up the tab on the budget increase required to supervise people given bail alternatives.
Others who supported it initially, such as the ACLU, ended their support due to the belief that the judges were given too much power. Now the question has been put to the voters – they will decide in 2020 if the cash bail system should remain or if another option should be implemented. If you are facing charges and do not know what to do, contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 for a free legal consultation.