LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Los Angeles Superior Court judge granted a preliminary injunction that blocks the city and county from requiring cash bail from arrested people who haven't been arraigned yet.
Judge Lawrence Riff on Tuesday 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.
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.
As part of the judge's order, the county, city and plaintiffs in the lawsuit will have 60 days to come up with different pretrial detention rules. That could include releasing people on their own recognizance or ordering GPS monitoring.
Until then, Riff ordered that people arrested for non-violent and non-serious offenses cannot be required to pay bail before their arraignment.
"The Department is aware of the preliminary injunction regarding the cash bail system, and of course will comply with any court-ordered bail schedule. The County is also working with the court and other stakeholders to explore ways to reduce the number of people held before arraignment because they can't afford bail and to provide the Sheriff greater release options to safely reduce the jail population, while always prioritizing public safety," the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a statement about the ruling.
Eyewitness News also reached out to the Los Angeles Police Department but did not immediately hear back.
Dudani wants a new policy which would increase public safety and reduce the burden on the jail system.
"It's certainly better for the government's checkbook. The most expensive thing you can do is put someone in jail, and yet L.A. is doing it at a remarkable clip," he added.
This lawsuit is set to go to court next year, but Dudani hopes to work with law enforcement and the government to come up with a more effective system before then.