Seminal California law on money bail first in nation

It wasn’t close to being unanimous, but California legislation signed into law last week by Gov. Jerry Brown easily garnered enough support in both the state’s Senate and General Assembly to ensure its passage.

The new law, formally termed the California Money Bail Reform Act and more commonly denoted as Senate Bill 10, has long been on the radar of criminal law reformers. The governor’s signature was the final act required to bring about its implementation. SB 10 is slated to take legal effect next year on October 1.

There is no question that the law brings a major change and may be a game changer across the country. Its passage now marks California as the first state to take so-called money bail completely out of the equation in cases considering pre-trial release. SB 10 dictates that an individual’s wealth will no longer play any role in determinations surrounding pre-trial “freedom versus remain-in-jail” outcomes pending trial following its implementation next year. One prominent supporter notes that it makes public safety “the only consideration in pretrial diversion.”

That is exactly the way it should be, says Assembly member Rob Bonta (D-18th Assembly District), who stresses that the new law erases a central injustice that has long existed in California.

“[O]ur system has allowed the wealthy to purchase their freedom regardless of their risk,” says Bonta, “while the poor who pose no danger languish in jail.”

Questions or concerns regarding pre-trial release are understandably critically important for many California defendants. A proven criminal defense attorney can provide guidance and, when necessary, diligent legal representation in a given case.

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