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Emergency $0 bail order during pandemic ends

San Diego County Sheriff's Dept.

Effective May 15, the Emergency Modification to the Bail Schedule, commonly known as "Zero Bail," was rescinded.

In March 2020, an executive order gave the Judicial Council of California and its Chairperson, the Chief Justice of California, the authority to take actions necessary to maintain access to the essential operations of the California's court system while protecting the health and safety of California residents, including incarcerated persons, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A statewide emergency order established an Emergency Bail Schedule for all misdemeanor offenses, many felony offenses and violations of post-conviction supervision at zero dollars ($0 bail). Exemptions to the order included charges involving violence and threats to the safety of the public.

Pursuant to the Judicial Council's guidance, and in collaboration with the San Diego offices of the District Attorney, City Attorney, Public Defender and Sheriff, the San Diego Superior Court implemented an Emergency Bail Schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals who qualified to have their bail reduced to zero and had no pending cases keeping them in custody, were released on their own recognizance to reduce the jail population during the initial significant spread of COVID-19.

As the State of California transitions away from the "crisis" phase to the "endemic" phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with a significant decrease of COVID-19 cases in county jails, the San Diego Superior Court ordered the rescission of the TEMBS, effective May 15.

Before the enactment of the TEMBS, qualifying charges had a bail amount set by the San Diego Superior Court Bail Schedule. Individuals could be released from jail after posting the set bail amount for their charges. TEMBS allowed a temporary reduction in the bail amount, for qualified charges, to be set to zero. Individuals in custody with these charges, with no other pending cases, were able to be "booked and released" from Sheriff's custody, pending a future court date. Examples of these charges would be Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Narcotics, and Theft or Larceny.

Beginning May 15, those qualifying charges again have a set bail amount based on the San Diego Superior Court Bail Schedule.

This change is likely to increase population numbers in the San Diego County Jails. The Sheriff's Department will continue in our commitment to the safety, security, health, and well-being of the people in our custody, along with the safety of the communities we serve.

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