California Pretrial Release Program

“Across California and the nation, pretrial release and detention primarily based on cash bail are slowly being replaced with safer and fairer alternatives. In California, we are leading and experiencing reforms driven by best practices, but also pilot projects, court decisions, and legislation,” Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye 2019

Enacting Legislation

The Budget Act of 2021 (SB 129) provided funding for “the implementation and operation of ongoing court programs and practices that promote the safe, efficient, fair, and timely pretrial release of individuals booked into jail.”  

The Judicial Council of California is responsible for distributing funding to the courts to provide every superior court with information and resources to support judicial officers in making pretrial release decisions that impose the least restrictive conditions to address public safety and return to court, and to implement appropriate monitoring practices and provision of services for released individuals.  

What is Pretrial Release?

Pretrial Release is when a person is accused of a crime, who has been booked into custody, is then released from custody, with or without conditions, before trial, with charges pending. 

What is a Pretrial Release Program/ Pretrial Services? 

Pretrial services provide information to judicial officers to assist in pretrial release decision making and/or to assist a person accused with any conditions of release.

How do I find out about Pretrial services in my county?

You will find information about your county’s Pretrial services on your county’s website. In line with SB 129, courts were mandated to contract with any “county department, including county probation departments, to provide pretrial services.” *

* The Superior Court of San Francisco and the Superior Court of Santa Clara are allowed to contract with the Office of Pretrial Services in that county.

History of Pretrial Release in California

California Pretrial Release in California

Pretrial Case Law

Notable California cases

Notable Federal cases

See Prior Reforms Section for information on the Pretrial Pilot Program.