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California Courts to set bail for low-level crimes at $0

The California Judicial Council, in an emergency meeting Monday, set bail for all misdemeanors and low-level felonies at “zero dollars” because of the dangers posed by the coronavirus in crowded jails. The council, which is the policymaker for the state’s Superior Court system, decided violent crimes would not be eligible for the temporary bail reduction, which takes effect no later than 5 p.m. April 13. The bail measure was one of 11 emergency orders issued by the council Monday as the state staggers under the global COVID-19 pandemic. Included among the orders was the increased use of remote hearings. Among the actions the council approved, to go into effect immediately:
  • Suspend the entry of defaults in eviction cases;
  • Suspend judicial foreclosures;
  • Allow courts to require judicial proceedings and court operations be conducted remotely, with the defendant’s consent in criminal proceedings;
  • Adopt a statewide emergency bail schedule that sets bail at $0 for most misdemeanor and lower-level felony offenses;
  • Allow defendants to appear via counsel or remote technologies for pretrial criminal hearings;
  • Prioritize hearings and orders in juvenile justice proceedings and set a structure for remote hearings and continuances
  • Extend the timeframes for specified temporary restraining orders;
  • Extend the statutes of limitations governing civil actions; and
  • Allow electronic depositions in civil cases.
For a complete list of emergency orders taken by the California court system in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, see the California Courts Newsroom.