Typically, when an individual is arrested on suspicion of committing a crime, the first foray into the criminal justice system is at the arraignment. This is where the criminal trial process has its beginnings, and it is extremely crucial to engage the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney to help guide oneself through this process. The arrested individual, at this stage the defendant, is formally read the charges against him/her and is advised of his/her rights. Also, at the arraignment, the defendant formally enters his/her plea. Another aspect of the arraignment is a determination of whether to set bail, and, if so, the amount. If the defendant cannot pay his/her bail, he/she will have to spend his/her time awaiting trial in jail. Obviously, this system affects poorer defendants more, as they are more likely to be forced to remain in jail. In the previous legislative session, the California Senate entertained a form of bail reform, which would set bail, not by crime, but by a combination of ability to pay and a risk of flight factor. Although the measure passed the California Senate, it has yet to receive a vote in the California House. However, in January of this year, a California Court of Appeals ruled the current bail system as violative of the Federal Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibition against excessive bail, giving the Senate Bill a renewed push. A summary of the Bill will follow below.
The Current Bail System in California
California Senate Bill 10 is an attempt to reform the current bail process in California. The current system sets bail in a fixed amount, specific to a particular crime, although it does allow a judge to take into consideration the following factors when setting, reducing, or denying bail, or releasing a defendant on his/her own recognizance:
- the protection of the public;
- the seriousness of the crime;
- the prior criminal record of the defendant; and
- the probability of the defendant to appear at the trial
Senate Bill 10
The proposed law, in its current form, would do the following:
- Implement a revised pretrial release procedure. This would involve a pretrial services agency (established by each county) preparing a pretrial services report to determine a pretrial risk assessment of the defendant, and provide recommendations on conditions for release of the defendant. The pretrial services agency is responsible for gathering information about newly-arrested persons, conducting pretrial risk assessments, preparing individually-tailored recommendations to the court regarding release options and conditions, and providing pretrial services and supervision to persons on pretrial release.
- If the defendant is in custody at the time of his/her arraignment, the judge is required to consider the pretrial services report and any information provided by the prosecutor or the defendant. If the judge determines that the defendant can be released, and still appear in court, the judge will require the defendant to sign a release agreement and then will be released. If the judge or magistrate determines that the defendant will not appear in court, the judge may set a monetary bail at the least restrictive level necessary to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court, and to require the defendant to execute an unsecured or secured appearance bond, or deposit a percentage of the bail with the court.
- Authorize the prosecutor to file a motion seeking the pretrial detention of the defendant if he/she has been charged with a capital crime and the prosecutor alleges that the facts are evident or the presumption of guilt great. A hearing will be held to determine whether to release the defendant pending trial, unless the person waives the hearing. Additionally, the bill would authorize the defendant be detained only if the court makes one of several specific findings.
Hire A Criminal Defense Attorney
Navigating any aspect of the criminal justice system is tenuous at best. Consequently, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is a crucial advantage if you are charged with a crime. The Los Angeles attorneys at the law firm Manshoory Law Group, APC handle a wide variety of criminal offenses, and, accordingly, know how to build a defense to obtain the best possible results. Attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact us today for an initial consultation.