Zero-bail policy in LA County is here but what has actually changed?

ABC7 compared the 2022 bail schedules over its 2023 counterparts. Here's what we uncovered.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Zero-bail policy in LA County is here but what has actually changed?
A controversial zero-bail policy is now in effect in Los Angeles County, but what has actually changed? ABC7's Christiane Cordero explains in the video above.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- "Zero bail" was implemented in Los Angeles County and officially began this week after years of debate and a loosely-similar pilot run during the COVID pandemic.

The changes in L.A. County's bail system are in full effect but not everything has changed.

ABC7 compared the 2022 bail schedules over its 2023 counterparts. Among the felonies that still have cash bail are robberies, rape and carjacking - in other words, crimes the court considers serious and violent.

The vast majority of murder suspects are held without bail.

Misdemeanors still subject to cash bail follow a similar theme and include domestic battery, violation of most protective orders and stalking.

So, are less violent crimes not subject to conditions before a suspect is released? The short answer is, it depends.

"In the past, under the money bail system, a judge wasn't looking at them individually to determine what the risk was," said David Slayton, the Executive Director of L.A. County Superior Court.

He's also a defendant in a recent lawsuit 12 cities filed against the new bail system. Slayton had no comment on the lawsuit itself. The new system means suspects in certain crimes will either be cited or booked, then released for $0 under the agreement they show up to their day in court.

Booked-and-release felonies now include automobile theft, organized retail theft and hit-and-runs with personal injury.

Bail has also dropped to zero for misdemeanor level assaults, reckless driving with bodily injury and certain DUIs. Officers can propose the judge not release the suspect, or release them under certain conditions.

"And that is an option we have to teach our deputies and police officers," said L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna, who spoke with ABC7's Marc Brown in a recent Eyewitness Newsmakers interview. "If they see a crime that occurs, and they catch somebody, they have to make sure we look at the risk assessments."

READ MORE | Eyewitness Newsmakers: LA County Sheriff Robert Luna talks zero-bail policy, retail thefts and more

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Certain crimes automatically prompt review from a judge, such as commercial and residential burglaries, plus misdemeanor level vehicular manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon charges.

Judges can also escalate less violent crimes, and likely will, if the suspect has a criminal history or has missed past court appearances.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors has requested a report in roughly six months to assess the new system.