Senator Janet Nguyen Announces Introduction of Senate Constitutional Amendment to Ensure Felons Are Not Able to Flee the State before Standing Trial

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Senator Janet Nguyen and Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) Tony Rackauckas held a press conference today to announce the introduction of a Senate Constitutional Amendment that would ensure that accused felons are not able to flee the State of California or the country before standing trial.

This legislation is in response to the case of Minh Beo, a Vietnamese entertainer who is currently being held on $1 million bail. It has been reported that Minh Beo is a well-connected individual with close ties to the Vietnamese government and there is an immediate concern that he will flee the country.

“In criminal cases like this, especially those where someone is accused of a sexual crime against a child, I firmly believe that the individual must face the due process of the law to determine their guilt or innocence,” said Senator Janet Nguyen. “Unfortunately, current law does not allow the option to seek “no bail” in cases like this. That is why I am introducing Senate Constitutional Amendment 13 that guarantees that those charged with crimes of this magnitude have to stay in the country to face the law.” 

Senate Constitutional Amendment 13 would allow a judge to deny an accused felon bail if they are a potential flight risk. Under federal law, a court may hold an accused felon in jail without bail if there is a “serious risk that the person will flee…”  The federal provision was passed as the Bail Reform Act of 1984.  There is no similar provision under California law.

For his part, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas provided an update on the Minh Beo case and spoke of the importance of Senator Nguyen’s proposal.

“I support Senator Nguyen’s proposal for a constitutional amendment to assist law enforcement in detaining foreign nationals that commit felony crimes, such as sex crimes against children, in our community from fleeing back to their respective country, especially if that country does not have an extradition treaty with the US,” stated District Attorney Rackauckas.

Minh Quang Hong, also known as Minh Beo, was arrested on March 24th and charged with felony child abuse.  Minh Beo is accused of molesting a child under 14 while recruiting for a talent show in Huntington Beach on March 23rd. According to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, if convicted, Minh Beo faces a maximum of five years and eight months in prison and a mandatory lifetime sex offender registration.

Since it is an amendment to the California constitution, SCA 13 must be approved by a 2/3rds vote of the California Legislature and would require voter approval. If passed by the California Legislature, SCA 13 would be on the 2018 ballot.