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How Does the New Illinois Pretrial Fairness Act Affect Criminal Cases?

 Posted on January 22, 2021 in Criminal Defense

Will County criminal defense attorneyOn January 13, 2021, Illinois lawmakers voted to enact the Pretrial Fairness Act, which would eliminate cash bail bonds and pretrial incarceration by 2023. In addition, the Act provides for certain law enforcement reforms. Part of the reasoning for this new law is that studies show these systems disproportionately harmed Black and Latin American individuals. A new system for pretrial release is to become effective on January 1, 2023. In the meantime, those facing charges for criminal offenses may be wondering if they are eligible for bail. Depending on the severity of the alleged crime, Illinois offenders may be allowed to post bail and get out of jail while they await trial and sentencing.  

Criminal Justice System Reforms

In addition to ending cash bail as an option for offenders, the Illinois campaign to enact other criminal justice system reforms has been led by a coalition of 15 organizations and the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC). The Pretrial Fairness Act passed the state legislature; however, at the time of this writing, the bill is waiting on Governor Pritzker’s signature. Gov. Pritzker faces mounting pressure from different organizations, including police agencies, to reject or veto the bill. The Act creates a more expansive system for monitoring statewide law enforcement misconduct, requiring every police officer in Illinois to be equipped with a body camera by 2025.

The comprehensive bill’s provisions include the following:

  • Replace the current bail bond system with new pretrial release measures, effective January 1, 2023.

  • Permit police use of force only when officers deem it necessary to defend themselves or others from bodily harm during an arrest.

  • Prohibit certain uses of force, including chokeholds and restraints above the shoulders, which may restrict breathing.

  • Prohibit using force as punishment or in retaliation when it is not authorized (such as using tear gas or pepper spray without first allowing a crowd to disperse after being issued a warning).

  • Require police officers to provide immediate medical assistance to an injured person, regardless if the person was injured by the officer’s use of force, and to intervene when another officer uses excessive force and to report that incident within a five-day period.

According to the Coalition to End Money Bond in Illinois, more than 250,000 individuals are incarcerated in the state’s county jails each year. Also, 90 percent of them are locked up while awaiting trial, the majority of whom cannot afford to pay for a bond. Those who are in support of ending cash bail have recognized that judges would still have the authority to deny bail to alleged offenders who pose a threat to public safety.

Contact a Will County Criminal Defense Lawyer

A few new Illinois laws were passed recently, including one that affects the use of force, bail bonds, and more. If you or someone you know has been arrested and charged with a crime, it is crucial to obtain quality legal representation. McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC is committed to securing the best possible outcomes in a wide range of criminal cases. Our accomplished Joliet criminal defense attorneys are well-versed in Illinois laws, including those that are brand-new. To learn more about how the latest legislation may impact your situation, call us today at 815-727-0100 to set up a free, confidential consultation.  





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