The trial court had no statutory authority to condition defendant’s release on bail on a waiver of her Fourth Amendment rights. Webb was arrested and eventually charged with felony drug offenses. She was released on bail. At her arraignment, she pleaded not guilty to the charges. Over her objection, the trial court conditioned her release on a waiver of her Fourth Amendment rights. Her petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging the condition was denied in the superior court. She refiled her petition in the Court of Appeal. Held: Petition granted. A defendant may correct an error in the setting of bail by seeking a writ of habeas corpus. The California Constitution provides for a person’s release on bail, stating that the primary considerations of bail shall be public safety and the safety of the victim (Cal. Const., art. I, § 12; Pen. Code, § 1275). A person charged with a bailable offense may seek pretrial release from custody either by posting bail or seeking the privilege of own recognizance (OR) release. Upon posting bail, the defendant/arrested person shall be discharged from custody as to the offense on which the bail is posted. A person granted OR release is statutorily required to obey all reasonable conditions imposed by the court or magistrate (Pen. Code, § 1318), including a search waiver. This is because a person unable to post bail has no constitutional right to be free from confinement prior to trial and therefore lacks the reasonable expectation of privacy possessed by a person unfettered by such confinement. The Legislature has granted no authority to impose such conditions on a person released on the scheduled amount of bail provided for a felony. The magistrate erred by conditioning Webb’s release on a Fourth Amendment waiver.
The trial court had no inherent authority to impose a Fourth Amendment waiver condition on defendant’s release on bail. The trial court determined it had inherent authority to impose reasonable conditions and found that a Fourth Amendment waiver condition is reasonable when the charged offense is drug-related. The Court of Appeal concluded the trial court had no inherent authority to deprive Webb of her Fourth Amendment right and impose the condition. Even in felony cases, “once a person has posted the required amount of bail, they have a constitutional right to be free from confinement, and maintain a reasonable expectation of privacy for purposes of Fourth Amendment protections.” Because Webb “is a pretrial releasee who has not been tried or convicted of a crime, she retains a reasonable expectation of privacy in her home, and she has a right to be free from confinement.” However, a defendant who is unable to post bail has no constitutional right to be free from confinement prior to trial and therefore lacks the reasonable expectation of privacy possessed by a person who posts the required amount of bail.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/D072981M.PDF