Senate Bill 10 – Pretrial Release and Detention
Senate Bill 10 made huge impacts on California’s pretrial release system. Traditionally, you could bail out of jail if you have enough money to do so and the pretrial release program was reserved for people who couldn’t make their bail. Senate Bill 10 impacts the bail bonding industry in California drastically, though, because it serves as a bail reform program that makes it so that every person charged with a felony has to go through a risk assessment to see if he or she can be released on a risk-based release.
The way that California’s pretrial release system works now is by making everyone accused of a felony go to a pretrial assessment. During the pretrial assessment, the court will evaluate various factors pertaining to the defendant and his or her case. Some of the factors that the court will take into consideration include the background of the accused, such as whether he or she has been convicted of any crimes before, most particularly if he or she was ever charged with leaving the scene of a crime. jumping bail or not showing up for court. The court will also take into consideration the nature of the charge. Charges that the court deems to be more serious and that come with a higher flight risk might prevent the defendant from winning a risk-based release.
In short, instead of people being able to make bail now, the court will assess the risk of each defendant before turning the ones it deems ineligible to the detention system. In order to be held in the detention system, the defendant must have a preventive detention hearing. During the preventive detention hearing, the court will evaluate many assessors of risk, similar in nature to the ones that are assessed for pretrial release, to determine whether or not the defendant is deemed dangerous enough to need to be detained to prevent him or her from committing any more crimes in the meantime while the trial is ongoing.
One of the assessors of risk that California’s Assessment Services will take into consideration is the risk that still exists to the victim. If the victim is still alive or any other people close to the victim are deemed to possibly be in danger upon the release of the defendant, then Assessment Services could asses the risk level of the defendant committing another crime if released throughout the trial period too high to release him or her.
There are many critics of this new bail reform program. Some people believe that it’s in violation of the California Constitution and the belief that people are innocent until proven guilty. However, for those in favor of Senate Bill 10, the new law that requires the court to assess the risk level of each defendant prior to release enacts a more equal justice system that makes it so that all people will be treated equally regardless of funds and the ability to pay for bail or not. These people argue that poor and rich defendants are treated more fairly under the new law and that it is not in violation of the California Constitution.
Of course, having the court assess the risk level of each defendant to determine whether or not he or she can be released on pretrial release or not definitely cause the bail bond industry to take a big hit. Bail bond companies primarily make their money by posting bonds for people who are given them and are able to pay the percentage required by the bail bond company to get them out of jail throughout their trial period. Not only do bail bond companies see Bill 10 as a detrimental bill to their industry, but they also argue that it punishes potentially innocent people who could be found not guilty in a court of law. If not guilty, they’ll have lost all that time that they could have been working and carrying on about their lives sitting in a detention center simply because the new law makes it where they can’t post a bail they would otherwise have been able to post.
Bill 10, whether positive or negative, appears to be here to stay for a while at least, so bail bonds companies have to learn how to take the hit.