A Press Release from Tulare County District Attorney
Effective at 5 pm today, April 13, the Tulare County Superior Court will implement an emergency bail schedule (EBS) adopted by the California Judicial Council as part of its emergency rules on April 6. Under Emergency Rule 4, bail for all misdemeanor and felony offenses will be set at $0.
Exemptions to the new schedule include violent crimes such as murder, rape, and child molestation.
However, the new rules permit $0 bail for crimes such as human trafficking for labor purposes, child abuse, elder abuse, auto theft, burglary and failing to register as a sex offender. Defendants with prior convictions categorized as “strike offenses” and violations of probation or parole are also eligible for $0 bail.
“The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented. However, this approach is reckless and is a disservice to victims of crime, business owners, and the community as a whole,” said District Attorney Tim Ward. “Under this emergency rule, victims are placed in the dangerous and vulnerable position of having their abuser return quickly and continue such abuse.
Perhaps the most glaring defect in the new rule is that someone who is out on bail or on their own recognizance who commits another felony crime would be presumptively eligible for $0 bail and free to victimize another member of our law abiding community. For our business owners who are already struggling to keep afloat, quality of life crimes like theft, fraud, and vandalism eat away at the wellbeing and fabric of our communities and will now be met with little immediate consequence even when charges are filed. The emergency order handed down by the Court severely limits the Office of the District Attorney and all of Law Enforcement’s ability to argue that arrested and charged individuals should remain in custody.”
Late last week, in anticipation of Tulare County courts ordering the EBS, prosecutors worked with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office to review records of defendants in custody. Prosecutors worked around the clock Thursday night, and on Friday, filed motions opposing early release against inmates who would otherwise be eligible for immediate release with no bail required under the EBS guidelines. These motions are anticipated to be heard in court beginning Tuesday morning. In all, prosecutors assessed over one thousand defendants.
These cases are in addition to the early release calendar initiated by the Tulare County Superior Court in the beginning of April to address convicted inmates serving a sentence.
The Office of the District Attorney opposed those releases and will continue to do so, as previously stated.