During a press conference on Thursday, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief Michel Moore announced that all 14 suspects recently arrested in connection to the wave of smash and grab robberies in LA late last month have already been released due to the state’s zero bail policy.
In the last several years, there has been a major fight over bail in California, with multiple attempts to reform popping up every year through legislative and legal means. In April 2020, bail for most non-felonies was halted due to COVID-19 concerns at local jails, but was brought back in June by the California Judicial Council despite several Bay Area DAs asking to keep it over COVID-19 and ‘systematic racism reasons.
In November, a proposition that would end cash bail and formally install SB 10, a long delayed bill that would replace cash bail with risk assessment bail, was voted against by a large majority of Californians at the polls, saving bail in the state. Despite the failure of Prop 25, the California Supreme Court ruled in March to limit cash bail anyway, with judges now having to consider an arrestee’s ability to pay bail and not being able to hold them solely because they couldn’t afford bail.
This policy led to courts in LA releasing 14 of the ‘flash mob’ smash and grab robbery suspects in recent days,
“All the suspects taken into custody are out of custody, either as a result of one juvenile, or the others as a result of bailing out or zero-bail criteria,” said LAPD Chief Moore on Thursday. “The chain of responsibility extends all the way to the buyer who is willing to pay a discounted rate to get a deal, but recognizes that the deal is coming at a cost that could be a human life.”
Chief Moore appeared on @KTLA to discuss what the LAPD is doing to combat the recent increase in smash & grab and follow-home robberies, and the sense by some criminals that there is a lack of consequences for their crimes, with some bragging on social media about their loot. pic.twitter.com/PRGwM6r5Nj
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) December 2, 2021
14 suspects out due to zero bail policy
“Our office has been collaborating with multiple law enforcement agencies and once all the evidence has been gathered, we will review the cases to determine what criminal charges should be filed,” said Gascon adviser Alex Bastian in a statement on Thursday. “These brazen acts hurt all of us: retailers, employees and customers alike.”
Gascon’s release is in sharp contrast to the response of other DAs in the state, including San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin, who filed felony charges against 9 suspects charged with similar crimes.
Legal experts told the Globe on Friday that LA letting the suspects out with no bail is exactly how the law is now planned to work.
“This seems crazy to a lot of people,” explained legal researcher Mel Malone to the Globe on Friday. “But they were not charged with felonies and they couldn’t assign bail. In San Francisco, they had felonies, as well as a DA who needs to show that he is not soft on crime fast due to a recall election coming up next year.”
“If you’re angry about this, you have every right to be, but they followed the letter of the law on this. Now we need to see if they show up for their court date. Now if they don’t do that, then you’re looking more charges and a warrant going out.”
Other suspects in the robberies are currently being sought by law enforcement.
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