What the New Bond Issue Means for the Accused in Illinois

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Access to bond and bail is meant to be a constitutional right, but there are certain requirements that might prove to be impediments to some people when they attempt to assert this right. Illinois requires that a person who is granted bail sets aside some money as surety of his or her appearance at the court. According to the provisions of 725 ILCS 5/102-6, the amount that is set is meant to be sufficient to deter the person from absconding. Of course, once the person absconds, the money is forfeited. Bail is meant to ensure that people who are not yet found guilty of a crime are not incarcerated for long periods of time under remand provisions.

There are times when the court sets out a cash bail to ensure that there are funds available to the court before the person is released. The courts will accept travelers’ checks, USD, and money orders. The violation of the bond terms can have serious consequences for both the surety and the suspect. As a starting point, an arrest warrant will be issued, and once the person is captured, he or she will find it difficult to secure bail in the future. In some extreme cases, the surety may be incarcerated if it is proved that he or she was acting under false pretenses in order to allow the suspect to escape from justice.

Implications for the Indigent Defendants

Many people who are accused of a crime really do not have the money that is required to pay for a significant amount of bail. Recently, Judge Evans held that non-violent offenders should not be denied bail simply because they do not have the money to pay cash bonds. Others have a criminal history that rules out bail or bond. The courts may set the bail money so high as to ensure that the person cannot be granted bail. Although technically they can be released, the amount that is set is sufficiently high to prevent them from ever raising it from legitimate means. Sometimes, the law enforcement agencies become suspicious about the source of the funds for the bail money. An investigation may be launched if the defendant is unable to explain how and why he or she earned the bail money.

The bail and bond system raises certain constitutional issues. If the bail requirements are so stringent, it may prove to be a divider between those who have money and those who do not. Tagging has been suggested as an alternative for defendants who are indigent. Otherwise, the court system will be filled with countless defendants awaiting trial. This is a serious burden on the prison authorities and may mean that the administration of justice is hindered in a serious way.

Important Exclusions

Not every crime or person attracts a favorable bail hearing. For example, capital offenses will not attract bail. There are instances in which there is ample evidence that the suspect actually committed the crime and that a custodial sentence is likely to arise from a conviction. In this instance, bailing out such a person would prove to be an irresistible incentive to abscond. Once the judge has set bail, the bail can be taken by a sheriff or any other peace officer. The money must then be deposited with the clerk of the court. It is important to note that no practicing attorney or person authorized to admit another person to bail can accept to be a surety.

The charges for a misdemeanor without warrant are treated slightly differently. They can meet the bail requirements by depositing 10% of the bail bond but not less than $120. They can also deposit the cash bail with the desk sergeant or sign an individual recognizance bond. This is all dependent upon conditions. The social report may be a contributing factor when determining whether bail or bond is appropriate. For an expert opinion on your bond issue, contact David Freidberg, Attorney at Law at 312-567-7100.

(image courtesy of Javier Villaraco)