Illinois has finally (effective January 1, 2018) reformed its law regarding the setting of bail in criminal cases. The goal of this reform is to curtail the practice of holding defendants in custody for lengthy periods of time simply because they cannot afford to come up with the money to pay for their pre-trial release. But what does this mean for individuals charged with a crime central Illinois who are seeking pre-trial release? And how can an experienced lawyer help?
Having an experience attorney from the outset of your criminal case allows a defendant to begin presenting the defense of himself/herself from the very initial appearance. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to help the client navigate the bail/bond system and present the most important information to the court so that the most favorable bail conditions can be set from the beginning.
As an initial matter, when examining the new bail statute in Illinois, it is important to note that the legislature has divided offenses into two categories. The list of Category A Offenses is lengthy and consists of Class X, Class 1, and Class 2 felonies as well as some Class 3 and 4 felonies as specifically outlined in the statute. Category B Offenses include: business offenses, petty offenses, Class A, B, and C misdemeanors, and Class 3 and 4 felonies unless otherwise specified by the statute. Regardless of whether an individual falls into Category A or Category B, the statute directs that there is a presumption that bail conditions shall be non-monetary and that the court shall impose the least restrictive conditions or combination of conditions to protect the integrity of the proceedings. The statute also provides that if an individual is unable to obtain counsel for the initial appearance, a public defender or licensed attorney shall be appointed to represent the arrested individual. This means that every individual will be given an opportunity to present their case for pre-trial release to the judge, through an attorney, from the very first time they appear in court instead of having to wait weeks or months as was previously the case.