Of the many issues before voters yesterday, Proposition 102 was just one that was struck down. But it was an important victory and evidence that the voting public won’t be fooled by “tough on crime” rhetoric when it’s carelessly used to sell a standard that’s too far off the course of true justice.
Proposition 102 would’ve required more defendants to put up money before being released from jail before trial. Currently, judges use their discretion when determining who is released on their “own recognizance.” This proposition would have changed that.
According to opponents of the change, the proposition was a “carefully disguised plan to shore up the bail bond industry.” And with a varied group of opponents including law enforcement, prosecutors, and defense attorneys alike, it’s likely this argument was truthful.
Supporters of 102 claimed it would increase the likelihood that people out on bond would return for future court dates, seeing as how their money (or their families’ money) was on the table.
It would have made a cash bail mandatory in all cases aside from first-offense nonviolent misdemeanors. No doubt, this would have led to a serious strain on the local jails, trying to keep hold of all of those who posed no risk to the community but couldn’t afford a cash bond pretrial.
Bail is something that is, in essence, collateral on a promise that you will return to court. If you don’t show up, you can lose your money. Judges use their experience and knowledge of the case to determine if someone is a good candidate for bail.
In many cases, if the judge determines you pose no risk to yourself or the community and you are likely to return, he/she will release you on your “own recognizance”. This simply means you promise to return, though no money is exchanged.
These sorts of judgment calls are what judges do best. From ruling on motions to determining the appropriateness of a sentence, they are the impartial interpreter of the law.
At bail hearings, it’s often up to you and your defense attorney to show the judge just why you should be considered for bail. Even if money has to be put up for you to be released, it’s better than sitting in jail for months awaiting trial.
When you are facing criminal charges, you need a criminal defense attorney who is willing to fight for what you think is right in court. From the likelihood of bail to the chances of getting your charges dropped—these are all things that can be discussed during a consultation.
Contact our defense lawyers for a free consultation on your criminal case.