Misleading social media post with L.A. County’s list of exceptions to ‘zero bail’ policy

A “zero bail” policy in Los Angeles County went into effect May 24 as part of a class action lawsuit, meaning people arrested for low-level, nonviolent crimes would not be required to post bail.

But some social media users misrepresented what that will look like. An Instagram post from May 24 showed a screenshot listing crimes including human trafficking, sexual assault, spousal rape, child abuse, and domestic violence. The caption read: “Ok boys and girls or he she them, let the madness begin, this is a list of (non)violent crimes in Los Angeles that people will be released for as of today, what are their thoughts?”.

The post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat fake news and misinformation in its newsfeed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The crimes listed in the Instagram post are exceptions to the zero bail policy. In other words, they are charges for which people should post bail, not charges for which people would be released without bail.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a May 24 statement that the zero bail policy does not apply to serious or violent crimes, including crimes of violence, sex crimes, domestic violence and weapons-related crimes.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, California set bail at $0 for most misdemeanors and misdemeanors to alleviate prison overcrowding. The state policy ended in June 2020, but counties had the option to continue the policy.

The text in the post’s screenshot comes from Los Angeles County’s emergency bail schedule, or zero bail policy, which was in place after the state policy ended. This was reflected in “amendments” to the bail policy issued in June 2020 and October 2020.

Those documents say: “As a general rule, bail for all infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies will be set at $0, with the exception of the crimes listed below.” It then lists the misdemeanor and felony exceptions. The text on the screenshot comes from pages 3-4, items 6-19, which are listed under “felony exceptions.”

In the case of the felony exceptions, the document says that “bail for the crimes … shall be set at the discretion of the court officer,” using the 2020 Felony Bail Schedule as a guide. In setting the bond, the document says, the bank officer would consider the facts of the case, the risk to public safety, and the previous COVID-19 emergency goal of reducing the prison population.

Los Angeles County’s pandemic-era “zero bail” policy expired on July 1, 2022. It was reinstated on May 24 after Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Riff, issued a ruling May 16 in a class action lawsuit enforcing the bail policy against poor people. those who were detained in jail is a “serious constitutional violation”.

Riff issued a preliminary injunction that effectively reinstated the October 2020 version of the county’s zero bail policy.

We qualify the claim that a list shows crimes in Los Angeles for which “people will be released starting today” False.