New Laws Governing Paying Cash to Get Inmates out of Jail

Finally, there are starting to be changes to an unfair bail system that caused many nonviolent, low-level offenders to spend weeks or months in jail just because they didn’t have enough money to be released.

Under the old system, people who didn’t have the cash were stuck in jail during their pre-trial period, and some spent more time in custody than they were ultimately sentenced to serve.

As a start in rectifying this situation, on June 9, 2017, Governor Rauner signed a new law (SB 2034) called the Bail Reform Act.  The Act, which takes effect on January 1, 2018, provides rights for people in Illinois jails, and it can keep people charged with relatively minor crimes from having to post cash bail as a condition of their release.

Illinois law is constantly changing, so anyone arrested and accused of a crime should be aware of the new bail reform law, as well as others which directly affect your defense case. These should be discussed with the attorney who is helping you fight for freedom.

The experienced and seasoned Illinois criminal law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., understand the seriousness of being charged with any crime, and we offer aggressive representation for our clients. We know the courts and the criminal justice system, how to avoid pre-trial jail time, and how to plea bargain, negotiate guidelines and recognize when to take your case to trial. When we take on a criminal case, we gather information quickly and look at all viable defense options. Based on the facts, we make a decision about the best legal strategy.  We know the changes to the law and will do everything possible to vigorously fight for you and defend your rights.

We offer a free initial consultation.  If you have been accused of any criminal charges, get help today by calling 630-305-0222 and 312-388-7882.

What the New Law Says

Senate Bill 2034 shifts the focus of pre-trial release decision-making from a person’s ability to afford bail to an individual’s threat to public safety or flight risk. The law:

  • Presumes that any bail set should be non-monetary and that the court should address the risks in the least restrictive way possible.  This means cash bail is not necessary for people who are in custody for a nonviolent misdemeanor or low-level felony, such as theft, prostitution, driving under the influence or drug possession.  The judge can chose other options that include electronic home monitoring, curfews, drug counseling, stay-away orders and in-person reporting.
  • Gives defendants the right to a new bail hearing and a right to bail credits for time servedPeople accused of “nonviolent” misdemeanors and class 3 and 4 felonies (such as retail theft and drug possession) will receive a $30/day credit toward their monetary bond for each day they are incarcerated pretrial.
  • Provides these non-violent defendants with the right to conditions of release that consider their economic and social circumstances. Defendants who are initially given monetary bonds and cannot come up with the money will be entitled to a review of their bond if they have not paid it within seven days. This second hearing, however, does not guarantee release.
  • Encourages the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts to implement a data-driven, validated, statewide risk assessment tool to determine if a defendant is a danger to the community or is a flight risk.
  • Requires judges to use “the least restrictive conditions or combination of conditions necessary to reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant for further court proceedings and protect the integrity of the judicial proceedings from a specific threat to a witness or participant.”
  • Provides the right to counsel at bail hearings. Courts are required to appoint a public defender or attorney for a bail hearing if the defendant wishes an attorney but cannot afford one.

Limitations of the Law

While a step in the right direction, SB 2034 is not true bail reform.  The law makes recommendations, but it does not place hard limitations on the use of monetary bond.

While persons in custody can have a review of their bond within seven days, this does not guarantee release. The law does not require that judges conduct an ability-to-pay determination at any stage, that judges set monetary bonds only in amounts people can pay, or that no one is incarcerated pretrial simply due to inability to pay.

Also, the law allows the Illinois Supreme Court to establish a statewide pretrial risk assessment tool, but does not require it. And many people may be ineligible for even a rehearing or credit due to being charged with drug offenses or nonviolent property crimes that are felonies of a higher class.

Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation.

When you are accused of a crime in Illinois, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney you can find.  Your case may seem impossible, but with skillful representation you have a chance. Remember, the law places a heavy burden on the government, and you have to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The criminal defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances. We know the judges and the court system and will aggressively explore every avenue for your defense.  We examine the facts, the individuals involved and the evidence available, and work hand in hand with our clients throughout the criminal process. We explain all elements and processes of the case and develop an effective defense strategy. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.

Don’t delay — contact us for help today if you have been accused of any criminal charges: 630-305-0222 or 312-388-7882. We represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, Illinois.