California Could Copy Kentucky to Overhaul Bail System

By: Wallin & Klarich

After you are arrested, the court will typically assign bail. Bail is a monetary payment made by the defendant in order to be released from custody while the case is pending. The money is held by the court as a way to ensure the defendant will show up to his or her court dates. The money will eventually be returned to you if you do not miss any of your court dates, but the process may take more than a year.

This system has been in place in California for many years. However, there is growing sentiment that the California bail system unfairly punishes poor people. Now, California lawmakers have turned to Kentucky as a possible example of how to reform the bail system.

Is California’s Bail System Unfair?

California Senator Robert Hertzberg is one of many people who believe the current bail system in California needs change. According to Hertzberg, the median bail in California is $50,000, which is five times the national average. Additionally, there is no statewide standard for bail, so each county sets their own fixed bail amounts. High bail amounts also don’t guarantee that defendants will show up for court.

For all of these reasons, Hertzberg believes that the only thing California’s current bail system achieves is forcing poor people to remain in custody while those with money are allowed to pay their way out of custody.

How to Change Bail in California

Rather than a bail system, Kentucky is one of several states that has created a system of pretrial services. Since Kentucky adopted the pretrial program in 1976, 90 percent of defendants appeared at future court appearances.

Meanwhile, California has spent $37.5 million over the past two years to jail defendants whose cases were dismissed or never filed. But in Santa Clara County, which has an existing pretrial program that helps save nearly $265,000 a day in detention costs, 96 percent of defendants are making future court appearances and 99 percent rate don’t commit any new crimes.

With this in mind, Hertzberg has introduced Senate Bill 10 in California. The bill would require California’s 58 counties to establish pretrial service agencies that evaluate defendants and conduct a risk assessment. Through these services, courts would be able to recommend release instead of bail if the defendant poses no flight risk or danger to society. Those charged with a violent felony would not be eligible.

Could This Proposed Law Pass?

A similar bill authored by Assemblyman Rob Bonta and supported by Hertzberg was rejected by the State Assembly earlier this year. Opponents had concerns about the costs to implement the new system and letting suspected criminals out of custody.

Hertzberg is hoping to amend SB 10 further to improve its chances of being passed.

Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

Have you been accused of a crime? Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney firm immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled criminal defense attorneys have over 35 years of experience successfully defending our clients against felony and misdemeanor charges. Our attorneys may be able to help you save thousands of dollars in bail bond fees.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find a dedicated Wallin & Klarich criminal attorney available near you no matter where you are located.

Call us now at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.


Posted In: Criminal Defense
Tagged: criminal defense