Bail Set at Zero for Most Los Angeles County Criminal Cases During COVID-19 Crisis

Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

As of April 16, 2020 the California Judicial Council is under an emergency order. The courts are completely closed until May 12, 2020 (at least) and the emergency order will last for 90 days after Governor Newsom lifts his statewide COVID-19 emergency order.

One of the key features of this emergency order is that in Los Angeles County, bail has been set at zero for the vast majority of cases. This means that most people arrested and charged during the period covered by the emergency order will be released on their own recognizance without having to post bail.

There are exceptions of course. While some exceptions are statewide, some are specific to each county. In these exception cases, judges can set bail according to the normal bail schedule, but court must still consider the safety and health of the defendant and the community during the COVID-19 crisis. The following exceptions only apply to the Los Angeles County Superior Court:

  • Any offense that is a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law (PC 1193.7(c) or PC 667.5(c))
  • Resisting arrest with force or violence, if filed as a felony (PC 69)
  • Violating a protective order (PC 166(c)(1)
  • Intimidating or dissuading a witness through force or fear (PC136.1, 136.1(c))
  • Any domestic violence offense (PC 243(e)(1) and PC 273.5)
  • Violating a restraining order if it involved threats, harm, or if restrained person went to home or workplace of protected person (PC 273.6)
  • A felony charge of criminal threats (PC 422)
  • Human trafficking (PC 236.1)
  • Felony child abuse (PC 273a(a))
  • Stalking (PC 646.9)
  • DUI (although in LA County first offense DUIs, if there’s no injury and no other issues, are OR releases anyway) (VC 23152 and VC 23163)
  • Looting during a declared state of emergency (PC 463)
  • Refusal to disperse or assembly for the purpose of committing unlawful act (PC 416)
  • Refusing to comply with a order to isolate at home (H&S 120280)
  • Intentionally transmitting an infectious or any communicable disease (H&S 120290)
  • Any misdemeanor firearm possession (PC 415, 25400, 29805, 29815, 29820, 29825)
  • Misdemeanor manslaughter (PC 191.5, PC 192, PC 192.5)
  • Battery on a peace officer (PC 243(b))

There are two exceptions to the exceptions (yes, I know, welcome to the law). The Los Angeles Superior Court specifically stated that Estes robberies and burglaries of a garage or parking structure attached to a residential building or single-family residence may be eligible for zero or reduced bail. Judges are urged to strongly consider this possibility.

If you’re wondering what an Estes robbery is, it’s when someone is accused of shoplifting from a store and then pushing someone out of the way to get out of the store. Under California law, that turns misdemeanor shoplifting into a robbery. A robbery that is a strike under California’s Three Strikes law. It’s a ridiculous law, but that’s another conversation for another blog post.

In the meantime, if you or a loved one is arrested in Los Angeles County during the COVID-19 crisis and wishes to speak with a criminal defense attorney about next steps, you can contact me at (323) 633-3423 or via the secure contact form on this page for a confidential consultation.

Let's talk