California Supreme Court dismantles cash bail for cash-strapped suspects

March 30, 2021

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously last week to end cash bail for defendants who cannot afford to pay. [CNN]

Following Thursday’s ruling, courts in California will now be required to to consider an arrestees ability to post bail, and they will be prohibited from detaining the defendant solely because he or she cannot pay the stated amount.

“The common practice of conditioning freedom solely on whether an arrestee can afford bail is unconstitutional,” Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar wrote in the court’s unanimous opinion. “It is one thing to decide that a person should be charged with a crime, but quite another to determine, under our constitutional system, that the person merits detention pending trial on that charge.”

Cuellar stated in the ruling that conditions of release other than posting bail, such as electronic monitoring, regular check-ins with a pretrial case manager, community housing or shelter and drug and alcohol treatment, are often enough.

“When people can obtain their release, they almost always do so,” Cuellar wrote. “The disadvantages to remaining incarcerated pending resolution of criminal charges are immense and profound.”

Last November, California voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have eliminated cash bail and replaced it with a risk assessment system. Voters rejected the initiative, Proposition 25, by a tally of 56.41 percent to 43.59 percent.


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Adam Trask

Keeping abortion safe and legal will do more to prevent crime than keeping poor people locked up because they can’t cough up enough money to pay a bail bondsman. Bail bondsmen are parasites and need to be eliminated. Simply another example of how the rich get richer and the rest of us suffer.


Jorge Estrada

Do I read that people with money will get different treatment than those who don’t? As long as swift justice is being avoided, there is no justice. So now we have, there is just in case for a price or there is no case for free?


pigsrule

Want to know one of the many reasons crime is up in California – lack of bail and incarcerations. By the way, we voted against this very issue. Yeah I know, votes are worthless in California. Nevermind.


kevin rise

What happens to a poor person who cant post bail for the same crime as a wealthy person? Bail is a joke. Nothing political there. It’s obvious who it has benefited. Not to mention our clogged courts.


shelworth

So, just let them all go then? Goes great with this

https://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_47,_Reduced_Penalties_for_Some_Crimes_Initiative_(2014)

Reduces beating up someone and robbing them from a felony to a misdemeanor as long as the victim isn’t hurt “too bad”….


horse_soldier

Sounds like a good reason to think about how you’ll get out BEFORE you commit a crime. There’s choice to be made, choose wisely.


NorthCountyLady

.We are encouraged to vote and are consistently told our votes matter. Yet, this very initiative was rejected by voters but is being implemented anyway. I voted to end daylight savings time and that initiative passed a couple of years ago. I still had to spring forward my clock a few weeks ago. Hello lawmakers… yoo hoo…are you there? Hello? Is anyone listening to the voters? Hmmm…. Guess no ones home.


Francesca Bolognini

I share a certain amount of concern regarding who might be released. On the other hand, I thoroughly agree that determining a person’s right to freedom based on their financial status is beyond unconstitutional. There is a very concerning trend in our society to evaluate a person’s worth based on their finances. That is horribly unrealistic, allowing those who are being disadvantaged by the very structure of the system to be treated as unworthy of the same respect given to those who have wealth, no matter how it was obtained.


I suggest we can pay a lot more attention to who becomes a judge and insure that they are people who will exercise the best possible judgement as to whom they release and who stays incarcerated until trial. if this is done fairly and well, we may be more “safe” than if someone with evil intent can afford to get out pretrial. Posting bail does not prevent crime.


Oh yes, and please do troll the hell out of this comment. Make sure you also denounce “liberals” (as if I were one) . I wouldn’t want to feel neglected.


derasmus

I generally agree with the premise of your argument. For example, would it be OK, in theory, to have let Rex Krebbs out on bail if he were really wealthy? I think any reasonable person would say absolutely not, the judge should deny bail. Conversely, why should a hub cap thief who is poor stay in jail simply because he has no money or property to put up to post bail?


My concern is, I don’t know how much flexibility judges have. Do judges really have the discretion to decide what kind of offenses deserve or are eligible for bail? I have heard judges say,“ our hands are tied…” when it comes to sentencing, is it the same for bail determination? I know that in the last few years in some large urban centers there are instances of the accused being let out because of “no cash bail “ and then immediately offending again.


Cmonnow

The most concerning part of your comment was “…very concerning trend in our society to evaluate a persons worth…” That trend has been around since dirt. It was worse without as many options for people. The bail issue definitely needs to be overhauled or restructured. I say that and not dismantled because simply releasing or not bothering to address certain crimes only encourages and emboldens those who would commit them. The number of crimes around town(s) is going thru the roof. You can’t hit em with a shovel anymore, the cops have to just let em back out…what did they think would happen? Unfortunately those w the cushy life in Sac and DC could care less. No worries mate, your post was on point.


Adam Trask

Good for California. Other states are sure to follow and this will be a nonissue in a year or two.


LameCommenter

Once again, our votes invalidated by a liberal in a robe somewhere. People will likely die with bad guys dancing free in our streets. How do we stop this?


Stunned

This is incredulous behavior by the Supreme Court. California no longer has control of anything it seems. You need legal paperwork to travel unless of course you arrive illegally then you’re fine and now this!


-The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously last week to end cash bail for defendants who cannot afford to pay


-California voters REJECTED a ballot initiative that would have eliminated cash bail and replaced it with a risk assessment system. Voters rejected the initiative, Proposition 25, by a tally of 56.41 percent to 43.59 percent.


MrYan

Initiatives are not necessarily constitutional. Remember prop 187?


LameCommenter

Well remembered, yes, with pain. Prop 187 attempting by popular vote to stem improper theft of taxpayer money by illegals was NOT “unconstitutional” although it’s true that an evil extreme single radical vomit of a federal judge, Mariana Pfaelzer, a westside entitled privileged limousine liberal DID singlehandedly block the massive will and 1994 vote of California voters.


Her vile ruling was never reviewed at a higher level nor appellate level thanks to her clever “I need to study it more” pocket veto of voters’ will. Then a liberal governor stopped all appeals of Pfaelzer’s ruling. Yan couldn’t have picked a more sensitive example of a vicious judge in a robe killing the legal, rational, constitutional and statewide will of the voters.


pigsrule

Activist jurist stopped Prop 187. Grayout Davis finished it. People in-turn got rid of Davis. It was maybe the last time the citizens of California had a vote that counted.