Bail System is Next Target of California Criminal Justice Reform Efforts

Adding to the already long list of criminal justice reforms enacted in 2016, it is reported that for next year, California lawmakers plan to make it a top priority to reform the system through which judges award criminal bail, saying courts across the state are “punishing the poor for being poor.”

Assemblyman Rob Bonta and Sen. Bob Hertzberg said they plan to introduce bills stating the Legislature intends to enact laws that will reduce the number of people detained before trial and address the racial and economic disparities in the bail process. It is still under deliberation what the details of these bills will be. The lawmakers have put together a broad coalition of organizations and lawmakers to tackle the issue, but they predict that the insurance and bail industry lobby will be reform’s biggest opponents.

The bail system has seen unprecedented momentum towards reform. In October of 2015 a lawsuit was filed against the state of California alleging that the current fixed bail scheduled system is unconstitutional and does not provide equal opportunities for wealthy and poor incarcerated individuals. San Francisco’s attorney general Dennis Herrera has already come out publicly against California’s bail system.

What Exactly is Bail?


Bail” is generally known as the amount of money you must post in order to be released from jail. Typically, when arrested, those who are being detained have the right to see a bail commissioner within 24 hours to either be given the chance to post bail, or be released out of one’s own recognizance (his promise to appear in court). In determining bail under California state law, bail is set according to a county fee schedule and the gravity of the charges against you.

Paying for Bail: Bail Bonds

Offenders must pay the full bail fee upfront or pay an additional 10% fee to a bond company (also known as bail bonds) in order to be released from jail. Bail agents post your bail in exchange for a non-refundable premium, which California sets at a maximum 10%. For example, if you bail is $50,000, you pay the bail agent $5,000, and you will also later be responsible for the $50,000 bail.

Those who can not afford to pay bail by cash or bond can remain in jail up to an additional 48 hours before they are formally charged and arraigned. Those seeking reform state that the set fees allow the wealthy to buy their way out, while the poor have to remain in jail.

San Diego Bail Processes and Criminal Defense Attorney

The Law Office of David M. Boertje is dedicated to protecting your constitutional rights and freedom, and we will do anything we can to keep you out of jail. We will even handle bailing you out of jail if you have been arrested or charged with a crime. Our lawyers are trained to walk you through the arrest process, to your trial. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, contact our law firm today.

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