Governor Brown Signs Bail Reform Bill, Meaning that California Will Abolish Cash Bail as of October 2019

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.”

The new law gives judges broad discretion to assess your risk and determine your eligibility for release

So, how do the changes work? Under the old system, the court would assess you and either give you an “O.R.” release (release on your own recognizance), release you on bail or hold you in custody without bail. Under the new system, the judge makes a determination regarding your likelihood to return to court for your hearings and your likelihood of posing a threat to public safety. If the judge is convinced that you are a low flight risk and low public safety risk, then you would be entitled to a release with the least restrictive limitations possible. If the judge concludes you are a “medium” risk, then you might be released with limitations or you might be held in custody. “High” risk offenders would not receive pre-arraignment release. That ineligibility also applies to some sex-crime defendants, some violent felony defendants and those who are accused of their third DUI in less than 10 years, the Bee reported.

To the disappointment of some supporters of bail abolition, the new law gives judges a substantial amount of discretion as to who gets released and who doesn’t. What that also means, though, is that your ability to obtain your release can often come down to how persuasive your arguments for release before the judge in your hearing are. In other words, you need to be sure that, from the very beginning, you have effective criminal defense representation who knows the law, knows the system, knows the courts and knows how to get positive results. You need to call the San Francisco criminal defense professionals at the Uthamn Law Office. Attorney David Uthman has over 20 years of experience as a litigation attorney and almost a decade of experience as a police officer. Call us today at (415) 556-9200 to schedule your FREE initial consultation to get the help you need.

More blog posts:

When Is (or Isn’t) a Warrantless Police Search of an Impounded Vehicle Allowable in California?, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer Blog, May 9, 2018

A California Criminal Defendant Who Handled His Own Defense Shows Why That’s Often Not a Good Idea, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer Blog, April 18, 2018


Contact Information