Illinois Set to End Cash Bail by 2023

Posted on in Bail

Chicago criminal defense lawyerLast month, Illinois lawmakers passed legislation that would eliminate the use of cash bail in criminal courts throughout the state. The measure, which is now awaiting the expected signature of Governor J.B. Pritzker, is being touted by supporters as a strong step toward creating a more equitable justice system for Illinois residents of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Understanding How Bail Works in Illinois

When a person is arrested and charged with a crime, he or she is generally required to make an appearance in front of a judge in a preliminary hearing. This usually happens within 48 hours of the arrest. At this hearing, the judge will consider the details of the alleged crime and determine if the probable cause presented by law enforcement was sufficient to justify the arrest. If the offense in question is a misdemeanor, the suspect is likely to be given a date for the next required court appearance and released on his or her own recognizance. If the offense is a felony, the next appearance will be scheduled, and the judge must then determine the bond conditions on which the suspect may be released.

A bond is an agreement between the suspect and the court in which the suspect promises to appear as ordered in all future proceedings related to his or her case. In most jurisdictions, a bond agreement usually requires some type of collateral—most often in the form of cash—commonly referred to as bail. The amount of required bail typically depends on the severity of the alleged crime, the danger that the suspect poses to the community, and whether the suspect is a flight risk.

Currently in Illinois, a suspect must come up with 10 percent of the set cash bail amount in order to be released. For example, if bail is set at $25,000, the suspect will need to pay $2,500 to avoid sitting in jail until trial. If he or she fails to appear as required, the suspect will then be responsible for paying the remaining 90 percent. If the suspect does appear as ordered, however, the amount paid will be refunded to the suspect regardless of how the case is adjudicated, with possible deductions for fines and fees.

A New Approach to Bail

Countless long-term studies have shown that cash bail disproportionately affects those in lower socioeconomic classes, as well as people of color. A suspect who does not have the financial means to post bail must remain in jail for the duration of his or her case, despite the fact that he or she is presumed innocent until proven guilty. These, among other considerations, were the driving forces behind the legislation that was passed in Illinois last month.

If the governor signs the bill as he is expected to, the state of Illinois will have until January 1, 2023, to eliminate the use of cash bail. In its place, a data collection system will be created and used to facilitate pretrial risk assessments on a case-by-case basis. These assessments will use complex algorithms to predict the risk associated with releasing a suspect before trial. Those who present particularly high risks will be kept in jail, while those with lower risks may be required to use electronic monitoring devices. The goal is to prevent people who do not present a flight risk or a danger to the community from sitting in jail simply because they cannot afford to post cash bail.

Contact a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with a crime in Cook County, it is important to enlist the help of an experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The team at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel can protect your rights at every stage of the proceedings, including at preliminary hearings and bail hearings. Call 312-629-0669 for a free consultation today.



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