By Sam Zou
RIVERSIDE, CA – Defendant Christopher Lemar Black pleaded for a lower bail when he appeared at court here this week, citing his need to take care of four underage children at home with his meager salary.
But the Court eventually denied Assistant Public Defender Camille Krier’s appeal.
Black appeared at the Riverside County Superior Court Dept. 3N in response to his current charge of assault with deadly weapon that caused great bodily injury. On Jan. 6, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge.
After reviewing the pretrial services report, the judge opened debate from both the defense and prosecution to hear their reasons on a potential “no bail analysis,” according to Judge Burke Strunsky.
Before each side had the opportunity to address the court, Judge Burke made clear the little possibility for a low bail after reviewing the facts.
“It is likely that the defendant could cause a great level of harm if he is released,” commented the judge. The defendant allegedly committed a crime of violence on the same victim back in 2014 and was charged and convicted with a misdemeanor.
Responding to Judge Burke’s tendency to keep bail at $50,000, Krier first explained the context of said allegations.
According to the public defender, there were no visible injuries nor complaints of pain from the victim. Thus, the defendant caused less harm than the court presumes. “I do not believe it [setting the bail amount at $50,000] to be appropriate,” concluded Krier.
Even though Black can receive a more affordable bail amount for the charges he faced, Judge Burke mentioned that the defendant could very likely receive no bail for another one of his active charges due to violation of probation—specifically not appearing in court at the scheduled time. Burke also reiterated that Black had a prior misdemeanor with the same victim.
Regardless, Krier attempted to explain Black’s current financial status as a possible reason for a lower bail.
“He [the defendant] has to support four children…one 16, one 13, one 10, and one four years old….they are underage children that he had to help on a limited basis,” explained PD Krier. Black had to take care of all four of his children with an unstable employment as a handyman that pays approximately $3,000-$4,000 a month.
With Black’s difficult financial situation in mind, Krier claimed that a $50,000 bail is “essentially a no bail” and that under no possible circumstances can the defendant afford the bail while taking care of his children with his monthly salary.
Judge Burke, while recognizing Black’s financial dilemma, had to resort to a “threat analysis” to determine that the defendant endangered the victim with threats such as “I’m gonna kill you.”
After all, the judge said, the defendant did allegedly hold a knife against the victim twice. In addition, the judge added, Black currently has seven prior failures to appear in front of the court, and his “new criminal activity score and his failure to appear score” on the pretrial services report is high.
Combining with the consideration of the defendant’s potential danger to the victim, the judge was unwilling to lower the bail amount.
Judge Burke also questioned the validity of Krier’s claim that the defendant was unable to pay for the bail, since only 10 percent of the bail had to be paid upfront, totaling $5,000.
“It was the combination of all the cases [that made the bail unaffordable],” said Krier, since the defendant also has other active charges undergoing the hearing process.
Although Black did not cause visible injuries, has an unstable and meager salary, and needs to support four underage children, the judge motioned to keep the bail at the previously set amount of $50,000—wails and cries of “oh no” were heard in the court audience.