The criminal justice system has always been stacked unfavorably against the poor, not just in Chicago but across the globe. There is no better place to test this hypothesis than to consider the procedures and law relating to the source of bail hearing (see 725 ILCS 5). Defendants who are charged with drug-related offenses in Chicago will immediately be subjected to a bond hearing. This is designed to assess the money that is required to be posted in order to allow for release from custody pending the case conclusion. The District Attorneys (such as the one in Cook County) have developed a practice model in which the prosecutor requests the judge to hold a hearing about the source of bail funds prior to the bail being posted. Clearly, this is an attempt to ensure that tainted money is not channeled back through the court system. The source of finding may also provide the prosecutor with further evidence of the defendant’s criminality.
Tying the Defendant in Knots
Although the law was designed to capture hardened criminals with extensive networks of resources, the reality is that it merely makes life tough for the small time dealer who has to rely on terrified friends and family to post bail to a court that is potentially going to imprison them all. That is why an experienced defense attorney is important – to ensure that the procedures are applied correctly, consistently, and fairly. The starting point is understanding the fact that not all drug charges warrant a source of bail hearing. The entry point is that of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver or alternatively the manufacture of such a substance. Typically it is only the large quantity cases that will warrant the punitive aspects of the hearing.
If and when the judge decides that the defendant is likely to use the proceeds of crime to post bail; a ruling may be made to the effect that the defendant cannot be released even if they have the money to post the bond. Sometimes such a poor finding is due to poor handling and inadequate representation. The naïve defendants assume that the hearing is only preliminary and they need not put in as much effort as the main case. On the contrary, this is a serious step in the case and could mean that the defendant spends a long time on remand. Of course, it all ties in with the suspicion that the prosecutors often use the remand system to keep people off the streets even if they do not have sufficient evidence to convict them in court.
The judges have some discretion after making certain findings of fact (see Kenyatta White case in which the court was criticized for excessive leniency). The starting point is a “D” bond, which means that only 10% of the agreed amount must be posted in cash. The rest must be paid by other means which are subject to financial regulation such as a check or direct deposit. Other conditions may include the surrender of all travel documents, home confinement and reporting. For purposes of protecting the investigation, the defendant is typically not allowed to contact any witnesses or the victims. The prosecutor may request that the defendant prove that the source of funds are not proceeds of crime. In truth those that are hardened and seasoned criminals will always find a way of meeting the court’s requirements. It is the little people that will be left stranded in prison cells.
An experienced attorney will be able to curate the necessary documentation such as affidavits and financial statements. More importantly, they could prevent your friends and family from being harassed by the law enforcement agencies. Ultimately the source of bail hearing is inherently prone to discriminatory practice. Do you need help with your case from an experienced and professional attorney? Contact David Freidberg Attorney at Law today at 312-560-7100 to get the expert legal help that you deserve.
(image courtesy of Larry Farr)