On July 18, 2023, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County approved a new set of bail schedules for suspects arrested in non-violent felonies and misdemeanor crimes. The new bail schedule, scheduled to take effect in Los Angeles County on October 1, 2023, dictates one of three possible actions by law enforcement for an arrestee’s release: Cite and Release, Book and Release or Magistrate Review. Capital offenses such as murder with special circumstances and limited felonies are not eligible for pre-arraignment, zero bail release. All law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County must comply with this protocol.
The newly approved release protocols will replace the traditional bail schedules. Instead of assigning money bail amount to non-violent felonies and misdemeanors, a majority of arrestees will now be released at the location of their arrest or booked in jail, and then released on their own recognizance with a citation for a future court date.
In some cases, suspects arrested for certain crimes which pose an increased risk to the public will be referred to an on-call magistrate, who will have discretion to determine the appropriate release terms and conditions. Some examples of release conditions by a magistrate may include prohibitions against committing crimes, sending text messages to remind the arrestee to appear in court and visits with court staff.
As a result of these new release terms, law enforcement must cite and release or book and release arrestees in nearly all theft offenses, vehicle code violations, and crimes against property such as petty theft, and vandalism.
Offenses involving guns, sexual battery, crimes against children/ elders and contact with minors with intent to commit a sexual offense are examples of offenses subject to magistrate review. Magistrates will consider the crime, and a risk assessment report to determine whether the arrestee should be released with no conditions or determine the least restrictive, non-financial conditions intended to address whether the arrestee is likely to return to court. All offenses in this category are designated as zero bail offenses.
As an example of this change, a person arrested for False Imprisonment under this new protocol would be eligible for book and release. Under the previous bail schedule, their bail amount would be $50,000. Likewise, a person arrested for theft of an automobile is eligible for book and release, while under the previous bail schedule, their bail amount would be $35,000. In summary, most arrestees will not be held in custody, but instead released immediately. This represents a significant change in public safety protocols for all law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County.