SB 10 Is Bad for California



 I thought it was really well stated about SB10:

"What the Bail?!”

- Louis J. Shapiro Esq.

Bail its your rightWith the swipe of a pen, Governor Brown just turned the entire criminal justice upside down. In short, SB-10 abolishes the state’s current money bail system and replaces it with one that puts our freedom entirely in the hands of judges. Under the new law, under most offenses for which people are arrested, rather than being able to bail out at the police station, the accused will have to wait in jail, for up to 3 days, to be assessed at arraignment if they should be released.

This plan is horrible and undermines the presumption of innocence.

Governor Brown proudly exclaims, “Now the rich and the poor will be treated fairly.” Correction – now the rich and poor with will both be treated unfairly.

Allow me to illustrate: On Friday night, two men get drunk at a bar and get into a scuffle which results in a minor injury. The police are called and arrest the one who is less injured. They book him for “felony battery”, erring on the side of the caution, which they often do.

Before SB-10, the police would set bail $50,000.00 and the person would bail out for $5,000.00. Of the $5,000.00, he could provide $1,500.00 and pay the remainder in installments. His court date would be around 30 days from the arrest date. During that 30-day period, the person had an opportunity to select an attorney, prepare for the arraignment and give the attorney an opportunity to present exculpatory or mitigating evidence to the investigating officer and/or filing prosecutor, to try and avoid the filing of charges, or reduce them.

Under SB-10, this person will now remain in jail the entire weekend, not have an opportunity to personally hire his own lawyer, and not have the ability to provide present exculpatory or mitigating evidence prior to the filing of charges. Also, the first impression of the accused that the judge and prosecutor will get will be an unshaven, unkempt and sleep-deprived. That should bode well for his release.

The initial detention period will also pressure prosecutors to rush to file charges within 3 days of the arrest, which will result in many more charges being filed, that otherwise would have not, had there been more time for the prosecutors to make that filing decision between the arrest date and arraignment date.

Also, under SB-10, at arraignment, it’s an “all or nothing” decision for the judge. This may come as a surprise, but many “victims” are not in fact victims and fabricate allegations in the heat of an argument. When tempers cool, they regret making false allegations and reconsider their desire to press charges. If someone bailed out, and the complaining witness explained to the detective why they no longer wanted to press charges, and the case was dismissed, then the loss to the accused was his 10% bail money and a few hours in the tank. Under SB-10, that person will likely remain in jail for weeks on end, until the truth surfaces and the case is dismissed.

Think about the pressure that the “all or nothing” approach places on the judges and what affect it will have on releases overall. Under the monetary-bail approach, the judge would set an appropriate bail amount. The person would bail out, and if they violated a condition of release, their would be consequences for it, and the judge wouldn’t be labeled as lenient or compassionate, for the person having bailed out. Under the “all or nothing” approach, judges will feel all the more responsible and concerned that something may happen if the accused is released and will err on the “safe side” and not release the person. After all, what judge wants to be in the newspaper headlines, “Judge X decided to release Mr. X who then committed XYZ”.

Based on the reputational concern, and lack of uniform guidelines for release, judges will end up keeping more people incarcerated while their cases are pending.

This leads to the worse miscarriage of justice of all – people pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit, to be immediately released, versus remaining in jail for 30 days or more until their trial date.

Mens Central Jail and Twin Towers easily rank among the most heinous places on earth. The temptation to be set free is too great, and the innocent will sadly seize any opportunity to get out - even if it means pleading guilty to something they didn’t do.

Edgar Allen Poe famously said, “The road to hell, is paved with good intentions.” Now with that in mind, who wants to take a ride on SB-10?

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