Illinois News

New Illinois law could mean cash bail set in fewer cases

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Hands in handcuffs hold money
Kurgu128 Contributor
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 6, 2018 9:40 am

QUINCY -- Courts in Illinois have had one month to adjust to changes in how bond must be handled after new rules took effect Jan. 1.

The changes require that anyone brought before court has the presumption of a nonmonetary bond, meaning a cash bail necessarily won't be set.

Signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner last summer, the Bail Reform Act requires courts to consider a person's socioeconomic circumstances when setting conditions of release or imposing monetary bail. That means more people facing nonviolent misdemeanor or low-level felonies, such as theft, drug possession and driving under the influence, could be released on recognizance bonds. It does not apply to violent crime, sex crimes and domestic batteries.

"There's a presumption for recognizance bonds," said Adams County State's Attorney Gary Farha. "There can be conditions available."

Conditions to release could include electronic home monitoring, curfews, drug counseling, stay-away orders and in-person reporting.

It also requires that counsel be provided at bond hearings, whereas one who would request a public defender would not receive one until the case was set for preliminary hearing.

Before bond court started Thursday in Adams County Circuit Court, attorney Andrew Mays spoke with each of the individuals that was in bond court that day. He then presented arguments at what bond should be set.

Mays was hired by the Adams County public defender's office to handle bond court only.

For nonviolent, low-level felonies, a person is unable to post a cash bond must be given a rehearing in seven days, and a person will receive a $30 per day credit toward their bond for each day held in jail for a low-level offense.

Judge Amy Lannerd handles bond court in Adams County.

"It challenges us to pause and review quite a bit of information," Lannerd said of the new law.

Before bond court, those held in the jail are interviewed by the Adams County Probation Department for a pretrial service review. They are provided a risk assessment score, which factors in whether a defendant is likely to appear in court as directed or be arrested while out on bond.

The judge uses the assessment to assist in setting bond and additional conditions such as a stay-away order, GPS monitoring or an alcohol-monitoring bracelet.

Presiding Judge Diane Lagoski said though the statute calls for the presumption of nonmonetary bonds, that doesn't mean it is automatic. If a person brought into court has a history of violent crime, cash bond still is likely.

"The judge still always has discretion," Lagoski said.

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