California Proposition 4, Rules Governing Bail (June 1982)

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California Proposition 4 was on the June 8, 1982 statewide primary ballot in California as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.

Proposition 4 amended the California Constitution to require that California's courts, when setting the amount of bail, had to take into account the seriousness of the offense, the person's previous criminal record, and the likelihood that the person will appear to stand trial. These three factors were already required of the courts, but as a matter of statutory law, not constitutional law. Putting the requirements into the state's constitution meant that the California State Legislature would not be able to change the requirements by passing, repealing or altering statutes and that the only way to change the requirements would be another statewide vote of the people.

Proposition 4 also broadened the circumstances under which the courts could deny bail. It did this by allowing the courts to deny bail in two types of felony circumstances:

  • Proposition 4 allowed bail to be denied in felony cases involving acts of violence against another person when (a) the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption of guilt is great and (b) there is a substantial likelihood that the accused's release would result in great bodily harm to others.
  • It allowed bail to be denied in felony cases when (a) the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption of guilt is great and (b) the accused has threatened another with great bodily harm and there is a substantial likelihood that the threat would be carried out if the person were released.

Election results

Proposition 4
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 4,278,709 82.8%
No885,93817.2%

Constitutional changes

California Constitution
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXAXBXIXIIXIIIXIII AXIII BXIII CXIII DXIVXVXVIXVIIIXIXXIX AXIX BXIX CXXXXIXXIIXXXIVXXXV

Proposition 4 amended Section 12 of Article I of the California Constitution as follows, with new text in italics and deleted text stricken out.

SEC. 12. A person shall be released on bail by sufficient sureties, except for:

(a) capital Capital crimes when the facts are evident or the presumption great.;

(b) Felony offenses involving acts of violence on another person when the facts are evident or the presumption great and the court finds based upon clear and convincing evidence that there is a substantial likelihood the person's release would result in great bodily harm to others; or

(c) Felony offenses when the facts are evident or the presumption great and the court finds based on clear and convincing evidence that the person has threatened another with great bodily harm and that there is a substantial likelihood that the person would carry out the threat if released.

Excessive bail may not be required. In fixing the amount of bail, the court shall take into consideration the seriousness of the offense charged, the previous criminal record of the defendant, and the probability of his or her appearing at the trial or hearing of the case.

A person may be released on his or her own recognizance in the court's discretion.

Ballot summary

Proposition 4's official ballot summary said:

"Adds provisions to the Constitution prohibiting release of persons on bail when court makes specified findings. Release on felony offenses is prohibited where: (1) Acts of violence on another person are involved and court finds substantial likelihood the person's release would result in great bodily harm to others. (2) The person has threatened another with great bodily harm and court finds substantial likelihood the person would carry out the threat. In fixing bail, requires court to consider seriousness of offense, previous criminal record, and probability of appearance at trial. Retains existing provisions regarding releases on bail. Summary of Legislative Analyst's estimate of net state and local government fiscal impact: By broadening the circumstances under which bail could be denied, would increase jail and bail hearing costs of local governments. Due to credit received for jail time while awaiting trial, there could be offsetting savings as a result of less time having to be spent in jail or prison if person later sentenced."

Fiscal impact

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

"The provisions of this measure that would add existing requirements of law regarding bail to the State Constitution would have no fiscal effect. The provisions that would broaden the circumstances under which bail could be denied would increase costs to local governments in two ways. First, it would increase the number of persons held in jail while they are awaiting trial, and thereby increase local jail costs. Second, it could lead to increased expenditures for bail hearings.
There could be offsetting savings, however, if the person for whom bail is denied is later convicted.
Persons held in jail as a result of this measure would receive credit for their jail time, if they were later sentenced to state prison. Therefore, these persons would probably spend less time in state prison than they would under existing law. This would reduce the state's costs of operating the prison system.
Likewise, persons later sentenced to jail would receive credit for the time spent in jail prior to their conviction. This could offset the pretrial costs in some cases."

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the California Constitution

The California State Legislature voted to put Proposition 4 on the ballot via Assembly Constitutional Amendment 14 (Statutes of 1982, Resolution Chapter 6).

Votes in legislature to refer to ballot
Chamber Ayes Noes
Assembly 71 0
Senate 27 1

Lawsuits

Lawsuits involving Proposition 4 include:

  • Brown v. Borg, No. C-92-1769 MHP. 1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19149 (N.D. Cal. 1992).
  • In re York. 9 Cal. 4th 1133 (1995).
  • Brosnahan v. Brown. 32 Cal. 3d 236 (1982).
  • Dant v. Superior Ct. of San Francisco. 61 Cal. App. 4th 380 (1998).
  • In re Bright. 13 Cal. App. 4th 1664 (1993).
  • People v. Cortez. 6 Cal. App. 4th 1202 (1992).
  • In re Wick. 233 Cal. App. 3d 516 (1991).
  • People v. Barrow. 233 Cal. App. 3d 721 (1991).
  • People v. Otto. 4 Cal. App. 4th 1642 (1991).
  • Yoshisato v. Superior Ct.. 3 Cal. App. 4th 1070 (1991).
  • Williams v. County of San Joaquin. 225 Cal. App. 3d 1326 (1990).
  • In re Spitler. 156 Cal. App. 3d 1081 (1984).
  • In re Nordin. 143 Cal. App. 3d 538 (1983).
  • People v. Superior Ct. of Butte County. 135 Cal. App. 3d 1052 (1982).
  • Wilson v. Superior Ct. of Los Angeles County. 134 Cal. App. 3d 173 (1982).

External links

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