Los Angeles Courts Announce Major Bail Reform, Calling Pretrial Rules ‘Safe and Fair’ for ‘Most Non-Violent, Non-Serious Felonies, Misdemeanors’ – Takes Effect Oct. 1

PC:Nick Young
via pix4free.org

By The Vanguard Staff

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles County Superior Court Wednesday OK’d a new “safe and fair” bail schedule—to take effect Oct. 1—based on a accused’s “risk to public or victim safety and their likelihood of returning to court,” reducing the “reliance on money bail as a condition of release…for non-violent, non-serious felonies and misdemeanors.”

Presiding Judge Samantha P. Jessner said in a statement, “Today the Court approved a shift in the way we approach pre-arraignment release for non-violent, non-serious felonies and misdemeanors that acknowledges the fundamental inequality of money bail.”

 Added Jessner, “A person’s ability to pay a large sum of money should not be the determining factor in deciding whether that person, who is presumed innocent, stays in jail before trial or is released. A low-risk arrestee should not be held in jail simply because they cannot post the necessary funds to be released pending arraignment.

“The Court looks forward to working with County leaders, including our law enforcement and justice partners, to continue to think broadly about what we can do as a community to facilitate the protection of public safety, maximize the likelihood that these persons will return to court and ensure that low-level offenders do not sit behind bars prior to arraignment simply because they cannot afford bail.”

In a statement from the court about the major bail reform announcement, it noted, “Under the Constitution, most arrestees who are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt are entitled to release on bail while awaiting trial…the Constitution prohibits excessive bail and requires that judicial officers take into account the protection of the public, safety of the victim, seriousness of the offense charged, previous criminal record of the defendant, and the probability of the arrestee appearing at court appearances.”

“With the implementation of the new Pre-Arraignment Release Protocols, the Court is helping to develop a robust and dynamic pre-arraignment release system for non-violent, non-serious felonies and misdemeanors that prioritizes public and victim safety and equal access to justice for all,” said Executive Officer/Clerk of Court David W. Slayton.

Slayton added, “We are hopeful the protocols announced today will build on our productive and collaborative working relationships with members of the LA County criminal justice community as we work together to change the landscape of and thinking around pretrial release for low-level crimes.”

The court explained, “The newly adopted felony and misdemeanor bail schedules…will replace uniform misdemeanor and felony bail schedules for arrestees before arraignment,” noting, “Instead of assigning a money bail amount to low-level, non-violent, non-serious offenses, the majority of these arrestees will be released at the location of arrest or booked and then released on their own recognizance with a promise to appear at arraignment.”

The court added, “Persons arrested for certain crimes which pose a greater risk to the public will be referred to a magistrate, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, who will exercise discretion by conducting individualized determinations of the appropriate non-financial pre-arraignment release terms and conditions of the arrestee necessary to reduce the risk to the public and victim safety and the likelihood of the arrestee returning to court.”

The court said that “judicial officers will consider the facts presented and the arguments made by counsel, rely on applicable legal precedent, and exercise their discretion to determine release conditions and an amount of bail necessary to ensure the safety of the public and victim and likelihood of the arrestee returning to court.”

Those charged with capital offenses or certain felonies will remain ineligible for pre-arraignment release, although they can still post money bail for pretrial release, clarified the court, adding people arrested for felonies when on community supervision or on parole will also not be eligible for cite and release or book and release.

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