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Bail Amounts Change in Response to COVID-19 Emergency

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, lowering the jail populations throughout the state became a priority to prevent the coronavirus from spreading through detention facilities like wildfire. One way California sought to lower these numbers was by instituting an “Emergency Bail Schedule” to decrease the number of people being held in custody while awaiting trial.

Normally, your default bail amount depends on the severity of the alleged offense, and then the judge can tweak that amount based on your criminal history, ties to the community, and other factors. For example, if you were arrested a few months ago for breaking into a store after hours and stealing something, your default bail amount for felony second-degree burglary should be somewhere in the ballpark of $25,000. But now during this pandemic, that $25,000 should theoretically go down to $0. Emphasis on should.

To defense attorneys’ dismay, local prosecutors continued to request increased bail amounts or release conditions even for offenses that the emergency order said should qualify for $0 bail. The Public Defender’s Office challenged the court’s ability to set bail above $0 for eligible offenses, arguing that the prosecutors and trial courts were not abiding by the state’s emergency bail orders. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (the appellate court that governs our trial courts here in San Diego) essentially ruled that the new $0 schedule was not required, but rather just suggested.

Especially now that inmates face more health risks than ever while serving time in custody, it is important to have a seasoned, prepared attorney in your corner to set you up for success wherever possible. Having a convincing argument for zero (or at the very least, affordable) bail could keep you or your loved one safe from potentially catching and spreading the virus, and help put you back in the driver’s seat as you navigate through your criminal case.
Do you or a loved one have questions about how the pandemic might affect your case? Reach out to the Law Office of David P. Shapiro today to see how we can help you regain control of your future!

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