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The Law Offices of Paul S. Geller, P.C

Understanding the Controversy Surrounding Senate Bill 10

  • Published: September 26, 2018

When Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 10 on August 28, 2018, it instantly sparked a huge debate amongst various civil rights groups and legal organizations. According to the bill, California’s cash-based bail system is going to be replaced with a new risk assessment policy.

This new law is supposed to ensure that:

  • Defendants aren’t judged by their financial status
  • Jails aren’t further inundated with low-income defendants who can’t afford to post bail

The American Civil Liberties Union of California (ACLU) initially sponsored the bill, but immediately renounced their support after unfavorable last-minute changes were included in the final version. Like many state and national civil rights organizations, the ACLU is concerned that this new system may also unfairly target people of color who live in poorer communities.

Essentially, this new pretrial detention system relies on assessing defendants based on pre-established standards and profile-based risk assessment tools. A defendant can be judged as “low-risk,” “medium-risk,” or “high-risk” depending on their charges, past criminal history, and likelihood of appearing in court. Low-risk and medium-risk defendants may be released from custody if their charges are low-level offenses. A judge is responsible for determining if a high-risk defendant should remain in custody before their trial date.

Republican lawmakers are concerned that Senate Bill 10 ultimately endangers public safety. According to Senator Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, “There is no doubt that many of these tens of thousands of individuals have indeed committed a crime, victimized the constituents we represent. Think about them.” Because the final version of this bill was rushed through the legislative process, many worry that it also doesn’t account for preventable contingencies.

Senate Bill 10 is currently being opposed by:

  • American Civil Liberties Union of California
  • Human Rights Watch
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
  • American Bail Coalition

Understandably, this bill is negatively impacting many Californians who are currently employed in the bail industry. As a result, the American Bail Coalition is against the new law because it puts thousands of residents out of work and may have a negative impact on state taxpayers.


With criminal laws constantly in a state of flux, it’s important to retain knowledge representation that can effectively defend your legal rights. At The Law Offices of Paul S. Geller, we understand that facing the California criminal justice system can be stressful and overwhelming without experienced legal guidance. When you schedule a consultation, our Pasadena criminal defense lawyer can evaluate your case and ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of your legal circumstances. We want to help you make informed decisions about your future.

Paul S. Geller

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(626) 714-3112

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