Illinois Bail Reform Enacted

Earlier this summer, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Bail Reform Act. The new statute, which went into effect immediately after the signing, is said to be an attempt at alleviating overcrowding in county jails, and a form of relief for those unable to afford the bail amount for minor and nonviolent offenses.

Opponents of the old “cash bail” system claim it is unfair, and make the argument that it favors defendants charged with violent crimes who have money over the indigent or destitute who are charged with nonviolent crimes.

What the New Law Changes

Previously, when charged with a crime, a defendant who was ordered held in lieu of bail was held in the county jail until they paid at least 10 percent of the bail amount. Those who could not afford the amount would remain in custody throughout their trial or until the matter was resolved. The Bail Reform Act considers the following :

  • Cash bail is no longer required for those charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor crime or low-level felony, such as prostitution, driving under the influence drug possession or theft .
  • Rather than cash bail, a judge can order an alternative, such as electronic home monitoring, curfew, drug counseling, stay away orders, or in-person reporting.
  • Defendants in custody can request a bail review hearing and receive credit for time served.
  • Rather than focus on a defendant’s ability to pay their bail, the “promise to appear” system places a greater emphasis on whether or not one poses a threat to public safety, or their failure to appear for future court dates.

The legislation was heralded as a major step toward bipartisan cooperation by Illinois lawmakers.

Some Dissatisfaction with the Change

This new law is expected to alleviate some of the overcrowding in jails, but it did not go far enough for some in the law enforcement community. Although he campaigned for an alternative to the cash bail system, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart expressed dismay that the statute did not include provisions that made it more difficult for violent offenders who could afford bail to get released from custody.

Speak with a Will County Defense Lawyer who Understands the Justice System

When you are facing criminal charges or appearing for a bail hearing, or if you need legal advice about a pending case, it is important to retain a qualified and experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney . Contact the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba to obtain the assistance of a lawyer who will conduct a meticulous review of all the facts of your case, and build a strong and reliable defense strategy.

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