Zero-bail policy back in effect, LA city and county can no longer jail arrestees before arraignment

Wednesday, May 24, 2023
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A controversial zero-bail policy went back into effect Wednesday for the city and county of Los Angeles after a judge granted a preliminary injunction in a class action lawsuit.

Under the policy, the Los Angeles Police Department and L.A. County Sheriff's Department cannot require cash bail for some arrested people before their arraignment.

According to the LASD, it only impacts individuals arrested for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. Those arrested for sexual offenses, domestic violence and offenses involving weapons will be exempt from the zero-bail policy.

The department added those with repeat offenses while out on no bail can be made subject to a cash payment.

Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge Lawrence Riff ruled in a lawsuit, Urquidi vs. Los Angeles, that seeks to end the use of cash bail. After issuing the preliminary injunction, Riff said holding someone because they can't pay likely violates their constitutional rights.

LA judge grants preliminary injunction blocking cash bail requirement before arraignment

When someone is arrested, charges are set by law enforcement officials and come with a specific bail amount. Those who can't afford that amount have to wait in jail until they can go to court.

"We're supposed to have a presumption of innocence in this country. It's not much of a presumption of innocence when you're in a jail cell," said Salil Dudani, the lead attorney in the lawsuit.

Civil rights attorneys argue tens of thousands of people are incarcerated every year, for several days after their arrest, because they can't afford bail.

"So, for example: vandalism. That's a charge several of our clients were arrested on. That's a $20,000 bail amount. And if the officer claims you committed vandalism, that'll be your bail amount for 2-5 days without any lawyer or judge looking at this," Dudani said.

He said when it eventually gets to a judge, most of his client's cases are dismissed at arraignment. But by then, they have already spent several days in jail.

Copyright © 2024 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.