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Illinois Law May Eliminate Cash Bail for Minor Offenses

Posted on in BGL Law
Illinois Law May Eliminate Cash Bail for Minor OffensesIllinois recently enacted a law that reforms its bail bond process, with the desired effect being to reduce jail populations. Criminal defense advocates believe that the cash bail system causes nonviolent arrestees to unnecessarily remain in jail because they cannot afford to post bail. The law instructs courts to give preference to non-monetary conditions for release during bail hearings.

How Bail Works

A person arrested and charged with a criminal offense must receive a timely hearing to determine bail. At the hearing, the judge will inform the arrestee of the charges, schedule a future court date and set bail, which is determined by:

  • The nature of the offense;
  • The risk of flight by the defendant; and
  • The danger the defendant may pose to others.

For most cash bail bonds in Illinois, the defendant can post 10 percent of the bail in order to be released from jail. A judge can forgo a cash bail bond and instead place conditions on release, such as:

  • Curfews;
  • Restraining orders;
  • Electronic monitoring devices;
  • Drug counseling; and
  • In-person reporting.


Cash bail bonds are meant to make leaving jail more costly for people charged with severe or violent crimes. However, they also punish people charged with lesser offenses who do not have enough money to post bail. In some cases, defendants spend more time in jail awaiting their trails than they would be sentenced to jail if they are convicted of their charges. Illinois lawmakers focused on what they call “Category B” offenses, which include:

  • Class 3 or 4 felonies;
  • Nonviolent misdemeanors;
  • Business offenses; and
  • Petty offenses.


The Bail Reform Act creates new protections for people charged with “Category B” offenses that are meant to eliminate or limit the time they spend in jail. According to the law:

  • The court should presume that the conditions of release should not be monetary or pose undue restrictions on the defendant;
  • The defendant has a right to legal counsel during the bail hearing;
  • If a defendant charged with a “Category B” offense is unable to post bail, a new hearing must be scheduled no later than seven days after the initial hearing in order to reconsider the conditions of release; and
  • For every day that a “Category B” defendant is eligible for bail but remains in jail, $30 will be deducted from the bail amount.

Criminal Defense

Illinois' bail reform may reduce instances when defendants charged with nonviolent offenses must pay bail to be released. A McHenry County criminal defense attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you obtain a favorable condition of release and defend you during your trial. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.



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