Does San Francisco Have Cashless Bail?

November 6, 2023 0 Comments

San Francisco Have Cashless Bail

When someone is arrested for a crime, they may be released from jail pending trial on a monetary bond. The bond amounts can vary and are often based on the person’s income, but they are all designed to ensure that the suspect will appear in court and not skip out on their case. In contrast, a person who can afford to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to guarantee their appearance in court will typically be released within 12 hours, while those who cannot are stuck behind bars for days at a time.

In response to criticism that this system disproportionately incarcerates poor people, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced that she would end the practice of demanding money bail upon taking office. Boudin’s move was a milestone in the ongoing national discussion on bail reform, with many cities and states switching to zero cash bail or middle-ground approaches that limit bail based on a person’s ability to pay or their risk of failing to show up.

However, the move also paves the way for what critics call “cashless bail.” In short, a person who is arrested on a misdemeanor crime can be released from jail by simply paying a fee to a private company to guarantee their appearance in court. This fee, which is usually 10% of the total San Diego bail bonds amount, is non-refundable and must be paid even if the case is dismissed. Private companies have a history of predatory practices in which they charge a high interest rate on these loans, and as a result, many poor people who fail to show up for their cases are never refunded the money that they have given up.

Does San Francisco Have Cashless Bail?

Boudin’s decision triggered a lawsuit filed on behalf of the Civil Rights Corps, which accused the DA’s office of violating the First Amendment by discriminating against low-income people with minor criminal charges. In an injunction, a federal judge has now blocked the city’s new bail policy, ruling that it is unconstitutional.

The case against San Francisco’s bail reform law is just the latest chapter in a long-running debate over whether or not it is fair and effective to keep people locked up based on their wealth, or if it would be more equitable to allow everyone to have access to credit and equity financing. The Washington Free Beacon spoke to several California criminal justice experts who warned that Boudin’s move was outside of her discretion and will only embroil the city in a petty crime crisis.

To get a bail bond, you will need to speak with a licensed bail bondsman who will take your case details and review the application and contract, which is legally binding. A cosigner, who is generally required to be a citizen of the United States, will need to sign the application and contract to take responsibility for the full bond amount if the defendant fails to appear in court or harms a victim or the public.

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