Articles Tagged with california criminal law

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Public Defender Chesa Boudin announced that no more cash bail would be used in criminal cases in San Francisco. This will mean that defendants will no longer have to pay to obtain pretrial release. A “risk-based” system will be used instead to define the need for a defendant to be placed in jail prior to trial.

Is this really a newsworthy story in California, the state that has already passed a law ending cash bail? It is. While California did pass the legislation, Senate Bill 10, for the ending of cash bail, it has not taken effect yet. The legislation was signed in August of 2018 by Governor Jerry Brown. The legislation was written to replace the old cash-based system with a new system putting the responsibility for determining jail time for defendants awaiting trial on the judge. For former Gov. Brown, signing this legislation was a personal victory as he was a vocal critic of cash bail saying it was a “tax on poor people” in 1979. 

Senate Bill 10 and similar legislation being brought up by Boudin, are yet another way that California is leading the nation in criminal justice reform efforts. Advocates of these reforms say that requiring money for bail perpetuates already difficult racial and economic strains that exist within the criminal justice system. That a monetary bail system only works for the wealthy who can afford it.

Could Senate Bill 10 Have a Negative Impact on California’s Economy?

Los Angeles is the largest jail system in the United States. California makes up a significant portion of the bail market, meaning that those who work in the bail industry could be out of work. This has led to a national coalition of bail agency groups coming out to fight against the bill and try to have it overturned. They were successful in that they acquired enough signatures to be on the November 2020 ballot.

Eliminating the cash bail system means that for now, it stays in limbo until the residents of California vote its fate. The outcome of the bill is unknown. There are polls that suggest there is quite a division amongst voters on whether or not to put an end to the cash bail system. 

Not only does the bill have opposition from the bail industry, but the ACLU of California has their doubts about the alternative. They fear that when a judge gains so much power, there will be an increase in defendants put behind bars. For those in San Francisco though, changes to the bail system will happen independently of how the vote in the state turns out in November. It is up to the D.A. to decide which policies they approve and will enforce for pretrial jail time. Continue reading

Every new year, California Governor Jerry Brown sifts through hundreds of bills sent to his desk and signs into law a slew of legislative changes in the criminal law sector for the state. In 2016, Brown saw 1,059 bills come forward, 898 of which he signed into law. He also vetoed 159 and let two become law without signing them. Here are the key laws that will be enacted in 2017 that affect the criminal law sector.

Assault Weapons

As part of a legislative package toughening gun regulations, Senate Bill 880 and Assembly Bill 1135 sought to close a loophole for guns with reloading devices called “bullet buttons.” While California already prohibits the sale and possession of assault weapons (defined as those with magazines that can be detached without disassembling the gun), “bullet button” devices quickly release spent magazines to get around the ban. As of the new year, it is now illegal to sell semi-automatic, centerfire rifles or semi-automatic pistols that do not have a fixed magazine and also have one from a list of specific features in California.

Changes in Sex Crime Laws

Senate Bill 1322 also took effect at the start of the new year. It prevents law enforcement from charging those under 18 years of age with prostitution or loitering with the intent to commit prostitution and was intended to protect victims of sex trafficking from criminal prosecution. Senate Bill 1129 further removes the mandatory minimum sentencing penalties imposed for repeat prostitution offenders who are 18 years of age or older. This law will give judges more discretion in sentencing on a case by case basis as opposed to hardline penalties.

However, while some criminal reform laws have made things more lenient on certain offenders, other laws, like Assembly Bill 2888 ensures that certain rape cases have mandatory minimum prison sentences that are not suspendable. This was a direct reaction to the lenient sentencing of convicted Standford rapist Brock Turner. Lastly, Assembly Bill 27 will classify all forms of rape as a violent felony.

Uber and Lyft

Companies including Uber and Lyft can no longer hire drivers who are registered sex offenders, have been convicted of violent felonies, or have had a DUI conviction within the last seven years.

Date Rape Drugs

Senate Bill 1182 makes the possession of date rape drugs like Roofies with intent to commit sexual assault a felony instead of a misdemeanor. Continue reading