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Cash bail has been harshly criticized in many quarters over the years. The argument against cash bail is that it determines who will be held before trial based on wealth. That is no longer possible in Illinois because cash bail has been abolished. Illinois became the first state to eliminate cash bail.
If you were charged with a crime in Illinois, you should understand the ins and outs of cash bail outlined below. Also, your case has a chance for a more favorable outcome
with the help of an experienced Palos Heights criminal defense attorney at Michael D. Ettinger & Associates. Our attorneys are highly respected in the criminal defense field and have earned many honors and awards over the years for their legal work.
A sweeping criminal justice reform law called the Pretrial Fairness Act was enacted in September 2023 and protects those accused of crimes from being held in jail based only on their ability to pay bail. Going forward, state judges will decide if someone can be released before their court date based on the severity of the alleged crime or their risk of fleeing the state. The Act also allows people already detained to petition the court to review their case to decide if they should be set free.
The no-cash bail law was a long effort between criminal justice reform organizers, lawmakers, and victims’ rights professionals to reduce racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. Some studies suggest that black defendants are up to 25% more likely to be kept in jail before their trial than whites. Studies also say that black and brown defendants often get higher bail than others.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said recently that the cash bail system ‘wrongly tied access to financial resources to being set free before trial.’ She argues that the old system led to many people of color spending weeks, months, and even years in jail because they did not have money.
There also are many in the state who criticize the no cash bail law. State attorneys and law enforcement claim that getting rid of cash bail will increase crime rates in Illinois. In early 2023, sheriffs and prosecutors in 64 counties filed suit, arguing the law was unconstitutional. A county judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, but the state Supreme Court overturned that decision, so no cash bail is the law of the land in Illinois today.
The Act only recently passed, so it remains to be seen how it will affect crime rates and society. But not having to pay bail to be released from jail could be a boon to many criminal defendants. If you are being held in jail and think the new law affects you, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately for a case review.
Michael D. Ettinger & Associates is one of the best criminal defense law firms in Illinois. If you face serious criminal charges, our Palos Heights criminal defense attorneys will offer the most robust possible defense. We will also review the no cash bail law and explain how it affects you. Contact our office today at (708) 923-0368 for a confidential consultation about your charges.