Year: 2020

Tulare woman released on $0 bail, reoffends days later

A Tulare woman was arraigned last week on a theft charge after having been released from custody on $0 bail as part of the judicial branch’s emergency orders concerning COVID-19.

Nikki Gonzales, age 32, was arrested on May 5 after allegedly stealing items at a Tulare drugstore. In 2020 alone, Gonzales has been charged with 12 separate misdemeanor cases, which include charges for possession of stolen property, petty theft, trespassing, shoplifting, resisting/delaying arrest, under the influence of narcotics, drunk in public and looting. Gonzales was granted $0 bail under the Emergency Bail Schedule having been released on three separate occasions prior to arrest on the latest charges. She was last released on April 29th, 2020, before being arrested less than a week later on May 5th, 2020.

On May 7, she was arraigned on a new misdemeanor charge of looting. She pleaded not guilty. In total, Gonzales has 14 open criminal cases including the recent misdemeanor charge. Her most serious case alleges two felony counts of bringing both drugs and weapons into the jail.

Her next court date is May 26, 2020, to set a preliminary hearing on her felony case.

Pre-Trial Supervision

Agents contact offenders in the community to monitor compliance with bail terms and conditions.

Community Contacts With Defendants

  • Face to Face Contact
  • In Office Contact
  • Cell Phone App Contact

Compliance Checks

  • Unannounced Visits To Verify Information
  • Unannounced Home Visit
  • Bail Application Updates
  • Bail Term & Condition Compliance Check

GPS SERVICES

GPS Services Agents To Monitor Bail Compliance

  • Home/Jail/Workplace Installation
  • Tamper Response Teams
  • 24/7 Live Operator Monitoring

These are highly intrusive forms of bail supervision in which the offender is very closely monitored. It is common for violent criminals, gang members, habitual offenders, and sex offenders to be supervised at this level. Some may be subject to unannounced home or workplace visits, surveillance, and the use of electronic monitoring or satellite tracking.

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California Sheriff: Effects of Zero Bail Requirement ‘Could be Devastating’ San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon and District Attorney Jason Anderson voiced opposition Thursday to a court rule they say will lead to the release of hundreds of county inmates, including some who pose a danger to the community.

SAN BERNARDINO — County Sheriff John McMahon and District Attorney Jason Anderson voiced opposition Thursday to a court rule they say will lead to the release of hundreds of county inmates, including some who pose a danger to the community.

The rule, approved by the Judicial Council of California last week, requires that bail for people accused of certain misdemeanor and felony offenses be set at $0. The rule applies to both new arrestees and people already in custody.

People charged with serious or violent offenses such as murder, rape, or robbery are not eligible.

The Council said in a statement the rule would “safely reduce jail populations” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Prisons have been linked to concentrated outbreaks of COVID-19 cases as officials grapple to contain its spread. At a state prison in Chino, 51 inmates and 22 staff members have tested positive for the virus, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported Friday.

“In developing these rules, we listened to suggestions from our justice system partners, the public, and the courts, and we greatly appreciate all of the input,” said Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, chair of the Council. “Working with our court stakeholders, I’m confident we can preserve the rule of law and protect the rights of victims, the accused, litigants, families and children, and all who seek justice. It’s truly a team effort.”

In separate Facebook videos, McMahon and Anderson criticized the decision.

In the District Attorney’s video, ominous music played at the beginning as a text graphic read: “The California Judicial Council has ordered the release of certain inmates into the community solely because of COVID-19. Some of these inmates are a threat to your safety…”

According to Anderson, inmates who have remained in custody and could be released are “some of the worst of the worst.” He said the judicial order doesn’t take into account those accused of child or elder abuse and prior convictions.

Inmates released due to COVID-19? You read that right. Join @sheriffmcmahon , @sbcountysheriff and our office in sending a unified message that this is unacceptable for San Bernardino County! #zerobail #unifiedmessage #thinblueline pic.twitter.com/oVehymFQB0

— San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office (@sbcountyda) April 17, 2020

McMahon said, as a result of the zero bail requirement, an inmate who had been arrested on suspicion of felony child abuse — and who had prior convictions of child abuse and domestic violence — had been released and scheduled to appear in court.

“Based on this process, we are unable to hold this criminal in custody to ensure he does not recontact, live with or cause additional harm to the victim,” McMahon said. “The effects of zero bail on the county could be devastating.”

.@SheriffMcMahon and @sbcountyda Jason Anderson strongly oppose the Judicial Council’s ruling to blindly gift $0 bail! This approach is short-sided & not in the best interest of public safety.

See the DA’s message: @sbcountyda pic.twitter.com/c6njBL4e9i

— San Bernardino County Sheriff (@sbcountysheriff) April 17, 2020

Sheriff’s spokesperson Cindy Bachman said more than 500 inmates could have their charges reviewed and decided on, with an estimated 7 to 10 new arrestees a day fitting the zero-bail criteria.

County Public Defender G. Christopher Gardner said he doesn’t believe county residents should be in fear, however, as “the worst of the worst are in jail for charges that aren’t allowed zero bail.”

The Judicial Council rule makes those people charged with serious or violent felonies; allegedly violated a protective order; made felony criminal threats; resisted an executive officer; or are accused of other offenses exempt from qualifying for zero bail.

Gardner said since the order was enacted Monday, about 80 to 100 inmates had been released with the approval of his office, the District Attorney’s, and the court’s.

“I don’t think there’s reason to be scared for the community in the way that we’re handling this,” the public defender said. “I understand [McMahon’s and Anderson’s] point of view, but I don’t think the citizens of San Bernardino should be afraid of the way it’s set up because I think our law and justice system is doing it in a very prudent matter … We’re not just opening the doors and letting people out. That’s not happening.”

Gardner said inmates the public defenders and prosecutors disagreed on releasing would face a hearing and have a judge decide next week. The rule doesn’t restrict the ability of judges to deny bail.

Inmates who are eligible for zero bail already have a bail set, Gardner said, but they remained in jail because they couldn’t afford it.

“They’re essentially locked in jail right now because their bail is too high, not because they’re a danger to the community,” he said.

In his video, Sheriff McMahon also questioned the releasing of zero-bail inmates due to COVID-19 as his jails have only reported one positive case in an inmate as of Friday.

He said the jail population was lower than average, which allowed more bed space to isolate and quarantine inmates suspected of contracting the virus.

“Inmates in our custody receive excellent medical treatment and oftentimes have access to health care more readily than those in jail,” he said.

On Friday, the Sheriff’s Department reported that a 10th employee — a nurse who works in corrections — had tested positive for COVID-19.

That would make seven Sheriff’s employees who work in corrections that have contracted the virus, according to Bachman.

She said measures to prevent the spread include taking temperatures of everyone who enters the jail and screening arrestees to determine whether they have flu-like symptoms or have been exposed to the coronavirus.

Bachman added inmates and staff had been issued face coverings and given soap donated by local hotels to frequently wash their hands. Visits and programs and also been suspended.

After Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an order on March 24 to temporarily suspend intake of inmates into state prisons from the counties due to coronavirus concerns, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations announced it would be releasing thousands of incarcerated people to early parole.

State prison officials said Monday the prison population had been reduced by more than 6,700 inmates.

Those infected with COVID-19 in state prisons include 81 inmates and 88 staff members, according to CDCR data as of Friday.

Martin Estacio may be reached at MEstacio@VVDailyPress.com or at 760-955-5358. Follow him on Twitter @DP_mestacio.

Transient found in vehicle stolen during a residential burglary released on zero-bail


VICTORVILLE, Calif. (VVNG.com) — A 26-year-old transient found inside a stolen vehicle was arrested and released on $0 bail after the booking process, officials said.

On May 24, 2020, at about 11:53 am, a deputy with the Victorville Police Department conducted a vehicle check on a 2014 Hyundai Elantra parked in the desert area near Roy Rogers and Civic Drive.

It was found to be a stolen vehicle and was occupied by Earl Prescott Thomas

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Mara Rodriguez said the vehicle was stolen during a residential burglary. “Sometime between May 3 & May 23, while the owner was away, the home was broken into. Multiple items were stolen from the residence, including a vehicle,” stated Rodriguez.

Thomas was arrested and booked at High Desert Detention Center for possession of a stolen vehicle.

In compliance with the statewide Emergency Bail Schedule, his bail was set at $0 and he was released after the booking process.

‘Zero Bail Fail’; Alameda County Suspect Jailed 4 Times Since March, Released Each Time

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is publicizing the latest arrest of a man who has been arrested multiple times and released on zero bail, only to be arrested again.

Last month, the California Judicial Council issued an order in an effort to protect inmates’ health during the new coronavirus pandemic by reducing overcrowding at jails. Law enforcement agencies and local prosecutors have railed against the zero bail releases of suspects, and say some of those being released should not be eligible for bail and are often repeat offenders while out on bail. However, an appeals court ruled defendants can still be held without bail on a judge’s order despite the zero bail policy. Police and prosecutors would need to get the suspect to court to argue against release in front of a judge. In response to comments on the social media posts that the sheriff’s office was simply using Crowder’s image to fit a narrative without offering him help, the sheriff’s office responded, “We would like an opportunity to intervene and get a fighting chance to get reoffenders into sobriety, rehab programs, education and other services we provide. The Zero Bail does not allow us to hit pause and start those services. We want to help these folks not see them reoffend.”

SB 10 is the wrong replacement for California’s unjust money bail system


Source: Sac Bee

To the editor: Your editorial is right to call for “better justice before trial for defendants with or without money.” Unfortunately, your support of Senate Bill 10, which is headed for a referendum in 2020, is misguided.

Eliminating cash bail is urgent and necessary, but we must ensure we’re not replacing one bad bail system with another.

While SB 10 would eliminate cash bail and appear to attack wealth-based detention, it also embraces a system of algorithms based on statistical models that are used to determine who is in and who is out before trial. Like cash bail, this attempt at predicting future behavior turns the presumption of innocence on its head and can result in jail time before a court has evaluated any evidence against you.

Prominent researchers and scientists from leading academic institutions recently argued in a letter to officials in California that these tools “suffer from serious technical flaws that undermine their accuracy, validity, and effectiveness.” The algorithms rely on historical criminal justice data that are riddled with racial and economic disparities.

The choice is not SB 10 or the current system. We have an opportunity to reimagine pretrial justice. Let’s not miss our chance.

Robin Steinberg, Marina del Rey

BAIL MOTION: PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, Plaintiff, vs. AMERICAN SURETY COMPANY, Defendant


PEOPLE v. AMERICAN SUR. CO. Case No.: CPF-15-514545

TO VIEW THE MOTION CLICK HERE [MOTION]

Attorneys for Bail Agency: JOHN M. RORABAUGH, #178366, E. ALAN NUNEZ, #062288, ROBERT TOMLIN WHITE, #222504, ADAM SOSTRIN, #233908, Attorneys at Law, Santa Ana, California, Attorney for Defendant, AMERICAN SURETY COMPANY.

CASE FACTS:

On or about November 22, 2014, Bail Now Bail Bonds posted bond number AS50-171931 as an agent of American Surety Company, Inc. for the release of the defendant from custody. (See Exhibit “A” Bail Bond, attached hereto)

On March 17, 2015, the defendant was not present in court. The notice of forfeiture reflects that bail was ordered forfeited.

On March 25, 2015 the defendant was arrested in Napa County. A hold on this case was placed against the defendant. (See Exhibit “D” Napa County Booking Report)

The court file contains a notice of forfeiture with a certificate of mailing signed by the clerk of the court on April 7, 2015.(See Exhibit “E” Notice of Forfeiture, attached hereto)

On August 21, 2015 a claims manager Elizabeth Herrera for the general agent Peninsular Surety Company in Florida received a vine link report showing the defendant in custody in Napa County. The claims [*2]  manager believed that the arrest of the defendant in California automatically exonerated the bond and the forfeiture was removed from the open forfeiture report and listed as exonerated. (see Exhibit “F” declaration of Elizabeth Herrera; see also exhibit “G” vine link report; see also Exhibit “H” Forfeiture Report)

On October 23, 2015, the clerk of the court mailed a notice of summary judgment to the bail agent and the Surety. (See Exhibit “I” Notice of Summary Judgment, attached hereto)


ARGUMENT BY BAIL AGENCY

ARGUMENT

I

THE COURT SHOULD EXONERATE BAIL PURSUANT TO PENAL CODE § 1305(c)(3)

Penal Code § 1305(c)(3)

“If, outside the county where the case is located, the defendant is surrendered to custody by the bail or is arrested in the underlying case within the 180-day period, the court shall vacate the forfeiture and exonerate the bail.” 1 [*3] 

Penal Code § 1305(h)

“As used in this section, “arrest” includes a hold placed on the defendant in the underlying case while he or she is in custody on other charges.”

Penal Code § 1305.6(b)

  • “(b)Upon a showing of good cause, a motion brought pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (c) of Section1305 may be filed within 20 days from the mailing of the notice of entry of judgment under Section 1306.”

Penal Code section 1305(c)(3) requires, in mandatory terms, that the court exonerate bail where a defendant has been arrested in the underlying case outside the county where the case is located. Penal Code section 1305(h) confirms that a hold placed on the defendant is an arrest on the underlying case. Penal Code Section 1305.6(b) allows a bondsman to file a motion within twenty days of the mailing of the notice of entry of summary judgment.

“The forgoing authorities support the concept that bail is in lieu of custody and the reason for bail, ceases to exist when the principal is in official custody. The principal’s amenability to the court’s process is out of the surety’s control and logically out its realm of responsibility.” People v. Amwest Surety Ins. Co., (1986) 180 Cal.App.3d 444, 448. [*4] 

In the present case the defendant was arrested on the underlying case in Napa County on March 25, 2015, a hold was placed against him on the warrant issued in the in this case. On August 21, 2015 a claims manager for the supervising bail agent Peninsular bail bonds in Florida received a vine link report showing the defendant in custody in Napa County. This claims manager believed that the arrest of the defendant in California automatically exonerated bail. The claims manager removed the forfeiture from her active forfeiture list and entered the bond as exonerated.

Penal Code section 1305.6 allows for a bondsman to file a motion could section 1305 (C)(3) up to 20 days after the mailing of the notice of entry of judgment. In People vs Accredited (2014) 230 Cal. App.4th 548

Because extension available under subdivision (b) of section 1305.6 is shorter and narrower, we conclude that provision’s “good cause” requirement requires a lesser showing than the good cause requirement in section 1305.4. The justification for a relatively short, narrow extension need not be as demanding as the justification for an extension that doubles the length of the appearance period.  [*5] People vs Accredited (2014) 230 Cal. App.4th 548

Since the defendant was arrested and a hold on this case well within the appearance period, all of the elements of Penal Code § 1305(c)(3) have been met in this case. The out of state claims manager for the general agent discovered that the defendant was in custody during the original 185 day period and entered the bond as exonerated based on her mistaken understanding that bail was automatically exonerated in California upon the arrest of the defendant. In fact the automatic exoneration only applies to arrests of the defendant within the county where the defendant was bailed (see Penal Code section 1305(C)(2)). This error by an out of state claims manager was a good faith mistake which resulted in a slight delay in the filing of the motion. Penal Code section 1305.6(b) was enacted to provide relief under these very circumstances.

The law disfavors forfeitures in general and bail forfeitures in particular. (People v. Allegheny Casualty Co. (2007) 41 Cal.4th 704, 714 [61 Cal.Rptr.3d 689, 161 P.3d 198].) Thus, as a general rule, the statutes governing bail are strictly construed to avoid [*6]  forfeiture. (Ibid.) This policy of strict construction to avoid forfeitures protects the surety “and more importantly the individual citizens who pledge to the surety their property on behalf of persons seeking release from custody ….” (County of Los Angeles v. Surety Ins. Co. (1984) 162 Cal.App.3d 58, 62 [208 Cal.Rptr. 263].)

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully requested that the court set aside summary judgment, vacate the forfeiture and exonerate bail.

Dated: November 18, 2015

/s/ [Signature]
John M. Rorabaugh, Attorney for Defendant
AMERICAN SURETY COMPANY

Bail Agents: ZERO BAIL IS DANGEROUS

California voters are divided over bail reform, poll finds

By JOHN MYERS SACRAMENTO BUREAU CHIEF OCT. 1, 2019 5:36 PM SACRAMENTO —  

Source: Ballotpedia

California voters are sharply divided over the future of cash bail in a new statewide poll, although a slight plurality supports a new law to replace the system with one that would allow more defendants to be released before trial.

The poll, conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies for the Los Angeles Times, finds that 39% of likely voters would keep the new law in place. Thirty-two percent would cancel the law and reinstate the cash bail system, while 29% of voters are undecided.

The contested law, Senate Bill 10, was signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown last year. In January, a campaign funded by the bail bond industry successfully gathered enough voter signatures to place a referendum measure on the November 2020 statewide ballot in hopes of overturning the law.

Unlike a ballot initiative, which asks voters to enact a new law, a referendum provides a chance to cancel an existing law. As a result, the bail industry’s campaign will urge a “no” vote on the ballot measure, while supporters of SB 10 will urge a “yes” vote.

Justin Salters, a spokesman for the bail industry group that qualified the referendum, said the coalition “intends to run an effective campaign to educate voters on why they should reject SB 10″ next November.

In the intervening months, the new law remains on hold. Even so, state judicial leaders are pushing ahead on a pilot program to move away from cash bail. California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has led the effort, insisting that the state needs a better system for assessing the danger of releasing some defendants during the criminal justice process.

State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), a coauthor of the law, said the poll results represent a good step for an electorate that still doesn’t know much about the issue. He said a key goal is explaining to voters that in most cases, the deposit a defendant pays to a bail company isn’t refunded when the person shows up for court.

“As soon as you tell people that you lose your bail money, their position changes dramatically,” Hertzberg said.

SB 10 would eliminate cash bail and give judges discretion on whether to release someone charged with a criminal offense. Judges would use a system that assesses the defendant’s risk to public safety in order to determine whether to release the person before a court hearing or trial.

Democrats and self-described liberal voters surveyed were more likely to keep the new law in place, while Republicans and those who said they are politically conservative were staunchly opposed to ending cash bail. The poll also found a sharp divide by age: 45% or more voters between 18 and 39 said they are willing to move to a risk-assessment model for releasing defendants, a position shared by close to one-third of older voters.

The poll was conducted Sept. 13-18 with 3,945 likely California voters who were contacted by email to fill out an online survey. The margin of sampling error was 2 percentage points.

The drafting and passage of SB 10 were marked by fierce debates last year at the state Capitol. The bail industry, given that the law would effectively eliminate the need for its services, warned of dire consequences should more defendants be allowed to leave jail. Law enforcement groups also opposed the effort.

Supporters of ending cash bail, including civil rights activists and groups representing low-income Californians, argued that the system unfairly links release from jail with a defendant’s ability to pay. Those most affected, they said, are defendants who are predominantly African American and Latino.

But the final version of SB 10 fractured alliances between cash bail critics. Some civil rights groups accused lawmakers of weakening the bill by creating too many procedural hurdles and providing few specific instructions to courts and probation officers — which, they argued, would lead to fewer nonviolent defendants released before trial.

The bail industry had initially considered mounting two ballot measure campaigns for 2020: one to cancel SB 10 by referendum and another initiative to enshrine the right to cash bail in the California Constitution. Last week, however, the industry group abandoned its effort for a constitutional amendment and decided to focus instead on its effort to overturn SB 10.

Swaying undecided voters will be key to both sides, and the new poll found a sizable number of people without a firm opinion in several voter subgroups.

Hertzberg said that with California representing such a large part of the nation’s bail business, the political campaign that lies ahead is likely to be expensive and closely watched.

“This really is ground zero in the fight over criminal justice reform,” he said.

Bail Enforcement Agent? What is That?


What Is A Bail Enforcement Agent?

After someone has been arrested for a crime, sometimes they are set free until the trial date. When they are allowed to go home from jail until trial, they usually are required to provide money to the courts as security that they will show up for their scheduled appearances. This is called bail.

When they cannot afford the bail, they have an option: Bail bonds agents. These agents agree to pay bail for them.

What Bail Enforcement Agents Do:

  • If someone skips bail and misses a court date, the bail bond agent loses the money paid on their client’s behalf. That is, unless they can catch the client and take them back to the court for trial.
  • To find a bail jumper or bail skipper, as the person on the run may be called, a Bail Enforcement Agent may be brought in by the bail bonds agent. Police departments have many cases to handle and do not have the money or time to pursue everyone guilty of skipping bail. So Bail Enforcement Agents investigate the bail skipper and figure out where he or she may be hiding.
  • When the bail skipper is located, they are then taken to court where the bail bondsman is released from the bond agreement and gets his or her money back. The Bail Enforcement Agent is paid a percentage of the original bail bond amount. That averages between 10 and 20 percent.

Rules Bail Enforcement Agents Follow

Laws are strict in regard to bounty hunting. Bail Enforcement Agents are controlled by the laws of the state where they work. Laws vary from state to state, so Bail Enforcement Agents must be careful and remain aware of laws applicable to them, when searching for bail jumpers.

Below are some examples of individual state laws:

  • Ohio Bail Enforcement Agents must be licensed after classroom education regarding their trade
  • Michigan Bail Enforcement Agents are not required to be licensed or trained
  • Bail Enforcement Agents cannot make arrests in a state other than the one where they are licensed, unless that second state authorizes out-of-state Bail Enforcement Agents to do so
  • Some states do not allow bounty hunting within their state lines, such as Kentucky and Florida
  • Louisiana Bail Enforcement Agents must wear identifiable clothing which indicates they are Bail Enforcement Agents when arresting a bail jumper in a home
  • Most states which license Bail Enforcement Agents also require them to have insurance

Bail Enforcement Agent Arrests

Bail Enforcement Agents are able to make arrests and have some elbow room when it comes to making those arrests. These investigators are permitted to enter a bail jumper’s residence without a search or arrest warrant. That is, if they have probable cause, meaning they believe the bail jumper is in the residence at that time. A Bail Enforcement Agent is not allowed to enter anyone else’s home to look for that individual if there is not an arrest warrant or the Bail Enforcement Agent does not have the homeowner’s permission.

Bail Enforcement Agents can arrest just as police do. They do not have to call police to arrive on scene. Bail Enforcement Agents can use handcuffs or otherwise detain the person they have been looking for, as part of the agreement with the bail bondsman.


There are limitations to these arrest rights, however. Regardless of which state the Bail Enforcement Agent is working in, they:

  • Cannot carry firearms without state licensure or permits
  • Cannot arrest anyone except the bail skipper
  • Cannot use excessive force to catch or detain a bail jumper
  • Could face false arrest lawsuit if they detain the wrong person
  • Are held accountable for their actions through the state’s department of insurance and police when dealing with the public
  • Must remain professional and abide by state laws when taking alleged criminals to justice