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Illinois Eliminates Cash Bail

 Posted on July 22, 2021 in Criminal Defense

Will County Criminal Defense LawyerIllinois has become the first state in the country to eliminate cash bail for defendants who are arrested for a crime under the Illinois Pretrial Fairness Act, which was part of the state’s larger criminal justice reform bill. The new law is being lauded by defendant advocacy groups, who say that cash bail requirements penalize poorer defendants but benefit wealthy ones. Law enforcement officials have been vocal in their stance against the act, saying that it will ultimately put the general public at risk because of criminals being allowed to remain free pending trial.

Illinois Cash Bail System

When a person is arrested and charged with a crime, a judge determines how much bail a defendant will need to post in order to be released while awaiting trial. In Illinois, the current system is a cash bail system. This means that the defendant is required to pay a certain percentage of the amount of bail the judge sets in order to be released. In most cases in Illinois, the bond amount that needs to be posted is usually 10 percent of the bail amount the judge set. For example, if the judge sets bail at $10,000, the defendant would have to post $1,000 cash to be released.

Proponents who pushed for the no cash bail law say that requiring people who have no financial resources to sit in jail until their trial concludes is cruel and unfair. If a person cannot make bail, they are forced to sit in jail until their trial is concluded, often forcing them into making plea deals just so they can get out of jail.

According to statistics from the American Bar Association, there are approximately a half million people sitting in jails on any given day in this country only because they cannot pay bail. More than 75 percent of those people have been accused of committing low-level offenses.

New Law

In addition to abolishing cash bail, the law also:

  • Limits pretrial incarceration since only individuals arrested on qualifying charges will be detained pretrial and only if the judge determines they would be a high flight risk or a threat to another individual.

  • Ensures that risk assessment tools will not be the only basis for an individual to be incarcerated while awaiting trial. Defense attorneys will now be given the accused’s scores and allow the attorney to challenge the test and/or score in court.

  • Police will now be required to issue tickets without arresting an individual under specific circumstances. Police will also have the authority to release a defendant when there is no risk to public safety.

  • Penalties for pretrial release condition violations will now be reduced from felonies to Class A misdemeanors and will no longer result in revocation of the pretrial release.

Although some Illinois Pretrial Fairness Act provisions have begun, the full elimination of cash bail will not be complete until January 1, 2023.

Contact a Joliet, IL Defense Lawyer for Assistance

If you have been charged with a crime, a skilled Will County criminal attorney can help defend you against these charges and ensure your rights are protected. Call McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC at 815-727-0100 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.




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