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California Enacts $0 Cash Bail for Multiple Crimes Due to COVID-19

April 27, 2020

Most misdemeanor and low level felony offenses now have $0 bail.

California Enacts $0 Cash Bail for Multiple Crimes Due to COVID-19

In recent years, cash bail has been a controversial topic in California. Opponents argue that it penalizes the poor, often for minor crimes, while wealthier suspects can go free for far more serious crimes. Advocates of the cash bail system claim that it is necessary to keep Californians safe.

Whatever your feelings are on the subject of cash bail, the question has taken on new urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic. People held in jails and prisons across the state are particularly vulnerable to the virus, given the close living quarters and lack of hand sanitizer, soap, and other ways to prevent disease transmission. In recognition of this reality, the Judicial Council of California recently issued an emergency order that temporarily ended cash bail to reduce the inmate population in the California penal system and to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Under the order, bail is set at $0 for most misdemeanor and lower-level felony offenses. The order will remain in effect for 90 days, or until Governor Newsom lifts the state of emergency, or if the judicial council decides to repeal the rule. DUI, domestic violence and sex crimes are not included in this order; if you are charged with one of these crimes, then a judge will likely set cash bail for your release.

As a criminal defense attorney in Orange County, CA can explain, this order went into effect at 5:00 p.m. on April 13, 2020. The order requires California judges to apply the Emergency Bail Schedule to every person accused a crime who has been arrested and is in pretrial custody, as well as to every accused person who is currently held in pretrial custody.

Under the Emergency Bail Schedule, bail is set at $0 for all misdemeanor and felony offenses, except for the following offenses:

  • Serious or violent felonies (such as murder);
  • Felony resisting an executive officer by the use of threat or violence;
  • Contempt of court;
  • Felony witness tampering;
  • Marital rape;
  • Domestic violence;
  • Violation of a restraining order;
  • Felony criminal threats;
  • Stalking;
  • Failure to register as a sex offender;
  • Looting;
  • Felon in possession of a firearm; and
  • DUI

For the offenses listed above that are exempted from the Emergency Bail Schedule, the regular county bail schedule is in effect. In addition, probation violations are also subject to the $0 cash bail schedule. Violations of felony probation and parole are set in accordance with this schedule, which means that if a person violates bail on one of the crimes that has been exempted from the emergency schedule, their bail will be set in accordance with the regular county bail schedule. Significantly, judges still have the authority to deny bail in accordance with the California constitution.

In this difficult time, facing criminal charges can be even more stressful. At the Chambers Law Firm, we understand how overwhelming it can be to be charged with a California crime. We are here to help. Contact our firm today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free consultation with a seasoned criminal defense attorney in Orange County, CA.

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