In August 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 10, which enacted sweeping reforms to part of the state’s pre-trial criminal process, specifically bail. Under the new process, which will take effect in October 2019, cash bail is abolished. In its place will be a new system that does not condition your release upon your ability to pay money. Whether you are arrested before or after these reforms take effect next year, it is important to be sure you have a skilled San Francisco criminal defense attorney on your side from the very start of your interaction with the legal system.
The reform was intended as a measure to alleviate the problem of two systems of justice: one for those with wealth and one for those without. For example, the Washington Post reported earlier this year on the case of a 16-year-old from New York City who spent almost three years in a New York jail awaiting trial on an alleged theft of cash and property worth $700. The teen was arraigned and bail was set at $3,000. With a bail bondsman, the teen’s family would have needed to produce only a fraction of that amount (less than $1,000). They didn’t have the means to pay, however, and the teen remained locked up for more than two and one-half years, during which time he allegedly suffered extensive physical and mental abuse.
The California bill was designed to avoid these types of scenarios, where people not yet convicted of anything spend years in custody simply because they lack the wealth to pay bond. The Sacramento Bee reported that, in signing the bill, the governor said in a statement that, through the new law, “California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly.”