Curtis Lovelace was charged with the murder of his wife, Cory Lovelace, in Illinois. After a mistrial the first time around, a jury decided that the prosecution had not met their burden of proof and acquitted Lovelace of the crime. Nonetheless, Lovelace was sent a bill for over $40,000 for posting bond and various expenses related to his in-home incarceration. We also spent some time in a county jail before he was able to get friends to lend him the money.
Lovelace is now jobless, family-less, and his life is destroyed. After the acquittal, Lovelace petitioned the court to return the entire $350,000 bond. But instead, they sent him an “administrative fee” for $35,000 and charged him another $5,000 for the 277 days he wore an electronic monitor.
Recently, the Supreme Court of Illinois declined to hear his case.
Bail and Bonds in the State of Illinois
When a defendant is awarded bail, he or she is expected to post at least 10% of their bond, which is the same amount of money that the court gets to keep even if the defendant is acquitted. In some jurisdictions, that number is as high as 30%.
In an effort to crack down on bail-bondsmen, the State of Illinois passed legislation in 1963 to do away with the system of commercial bonds. Instead, the State of Illinois ruled that it could keep 10% of the bond amount as an administrative fee to ensure that defendants return to trial.
In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that these fees were legal, even in cases in which defendants complied with all the requirements of their bail and were later found not-guilty at trial.
Those who oppose the law say that the bail system was not designed to punish individuals who are presumed innocent at trial nor was it designed to raise money for the circuit courts that try these cases. Its only purpose is to ensure that a defendant returns to court.
The Exoneration Project, a free legal clinic at the University of Chicago school of Law that represents those who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes, filed a writ of certiorari on Lovelace’s behalf, stating that the bail system allows governments to extract huge sums of money from wrongfully accused defendants. They further questioned the nature of the administrative fee which does not seem related to any service that they performed for the defendant. They argued that the fee violated both the Eighth Amendment and due process.
The Bail Reform Act of 2017
Illinois did pass a bail reform act, but it only allows defendants accused of non-violent crimes to forgo the process of posting bail. California was the first state to move to a cashless bail system. Instead of posting bond, judges determine whether or not a defendant is a good candidate for release.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, you need a criminal defense attorney who understands how the system works and can protect you from crusading prosecutors and sloppy police work. Call David Freidberg at (312) 560-7100 to learn more about how we can help.