November 28, 2017 By Wallin & Klarich

California’s bail system could soon see significant changes after a year-long study recently concluded with a recommendation that monetary bail be replaced with a risk-based assessment system and supervision programs.

In October 2016, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye established the “Pretrial Detention Reform Workgroup.” The group recently reported the findings of its study, which include the fact that California’s money bail system is “unsafe and unfair.”

Does this mean bail reform is on its way?

Pay to Bail Out of Jail

According to the report, the main issue with California’s bail system is that it “unnecessarily compromises victim and public safety because it bases a person’s liberty on financial resources rather than the likelihood of future criminal behavior.” In other words, by basing the freedom of a defendant on their finances, the bail system ignores the possibility of whether that person is a flight risk or a risk to public safety.

The report found that wealthy people are often able to pay bail while low-income defendants remain in custody merely because of their socio-economic status. Nearly 60 percent of people who are in jail in California are awaiting trial or sentencing because they cannot afford to pay bail. Despite not posing a threat to the safety and not yet being convicted of a crime, these people risk losing their jobs and homes because they can’t afford the high cost of bail.

Are Major Changes in Store for the California Bail System?

To phase out the monetary bail system, the report recommends a risk-based pretrial assessment system where the court would decide whether a defendant is released or held in custody based on information about the individual.

In addition, the report suggests:

  • Establishing pretrial services in every county
  • Integrating victim rights into the system
  • Applying pretrial procedures to violations of community supervision
  • Providing adequate funding and resources to the risk-based assessment system
  • Adopting a new framework of legislation and rules of court to implement these recommendations

If California were to make changes to the bail system, it would follow in the footsteps of New Jersey and New York, which eliminated monetary bail for defendants accused of low-level or non-violent crimes.

Some California counties have already been making incremental changes to bail in recent years. Santa Clara County has instituted a program that gives non-violent, low-risk, and low-income defendants a chance for a pretrial release.

California lawmakers have the chance to address the issue of bail reform in January 2018 when the California Legislature reconvenes. The movement already has the support of Governor Jerry Brown and this new report is likely to help the push for bail reform.

Contact the Bail Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or someone you love has been arrested, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney before you decide to post bail. Not only will a skilled and knowledgeable attorney be able to aggressively defend you, he or she could potentially help you save thousands of dollars on bail bonds fees.

Our lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully defending clients facing criminal charges for more than 35 years. Let us help you now.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense lawyer available near you no matter where you work or live.

Call our offices at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation regarding your case. We will be there when you call.

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