The COVID-19 emergency bail schedule set bail at $0 for most people accused, but not yet tried, of misdemeanors and lower-level felonies. As with a regular bail schedule, law enforcement could petition a judge to raise or deny bail if there was concern for public safety. Those accused of violent felonies, offenses requiring sex offender registration, domestic violence, stalking, or driving under the influence were not eligible.
The Judicial Council’s review of the rule comes as milestones were met:
- Prisons are expected to allow transfers of convicted inmates from jails in all 58 counties to state institutions by June 19, which will continue to lower jail populations.
- More than 20,000 defendants accused of lower-level offenses have been released before their trials from California’s jails since the start of the pandemic, helping keep jails and courts from becoming vectors for the spread of COVID-19 between inmates, jail staff and surrounding communities.
- Many defendants accused of looting and car thief have been arrested and released several times.
- More than 8,000 prisoners have been released due to concerns of the COVID-19 spread between inmates.
The Judicial Council report suggested courts could keep the emergency COVID-19 bail schedule or reduced bail schedules where appropriate and maximize the safe release of arrestees before or at arraignment. Some counties voluntarily adopted their own COVID-19 emergency bail schedules based on Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s March 20 guidance.