AB 2925 will give district attorneys the ability to seek lengthier pretrial detention for individuals charged with making terrorist threats
Sacramento, CA – Last week, Joint Authors, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) and Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-Concord) introduced AB 2925 which allows prosecutors to seek longer pretrial detention for suspects, and increases prosecutorial discretion for those charged with making terrorist threats against a protected class.
The bill helps prevent those suspects from being released on bail and carrying out those threats. This bill was drafted in partnership with the Contra Costa District Attorney, Diana Becton who is also one of the sponsors of the legislation. The need for the bill became abundantly clear after a local Contra Costa County man made terrorist threats online targeting local members of a protected class. He later proved to have the means to carry out the massacre he promised, but local law enforcement did not initially have the appropriate tools at their disposal to keep him off the streets.
In June 2019, a 23-year-old Concord man named Ross Farca was arrested after he threatened online to carry out a mass shooting of Jews, using the username “Adolf Hitler.” According to court records Farca reportedly posted support for the shootings at the Poway synagogue and the Christchurch mosque and expressed a desire to conduct his own massacre and livestream it on the internet, stating “I would probably get a body count of like 30 (Jews) and then like five police officers because I would also decide to fight to the death.” Terrifyingly, when police searched his home they found an illegally-assembled AR-15 assault rifle and many high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The criminal complaint against Farca charged him with three felony counts — making criminal threats, as well as manufacturing and possessing an illegal assault rifle. Several days after his arrest, Farca was released on bail.
Members of the Jewish community were understandably fearful of being targeted because Farca was no longer incarcerated; some congregations sent warnings to members, hired security guards, or requested an increased police presence.
Currently, when an individual makes terrorist threats against a protected class, district attorneys cannot charge that person a felony hate crime. Terrorist threats against protected classes can only be charged under current law as misdemeanors. Protected classes include those based on disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.
“It is extremely troubling that a person making terrorist threats against protected class can be released on bail and given the opportunity to act on those threats,” said Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan. “This bill will empower prosecutors to advocate for longer pretrial detentions in order to help keep our communities safe from those who have threatened to do harm,” Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan concluded.
AB 2925 will amend California Penal Code Section 422.6 so that district attorneys will have an option to charge terrorist threats as hate crimes that carry either misdemeanor or felony penalties. If a prosecutor decides to charge a case as a felony, he or she will have the opportunity to request the court to lengthen the pretrial detention of the accused.
In addition to Joint Author Grayson, the bill is also coauthored by Assemblymembers Berman (D-Palo Alto), Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Diep (R-Westminster), Friedman (G-Glendale), Gabriel (D-Encino), Gipson (D-Carson), Levine (D-Marin County), Low (D-Campbell), Mainschein (D-San Diego), Petrie-Norris (D—Laguna Beach), R. Rivas (D-Hollister), and Rubio (D-Baldwin Park).