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Illinois Courts Delay Implementing Pretrial Fairness Act

 Posted on January 12, 2023 in Criminal defense lawyer

cook county criminal defense lawyerAmong the almost 200 new state laws that were scheduled to go into effect January 1, 2023, was the Illinois Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act. The SAFE-T Act provided significant overhauls in several areas of the state’s criminal justice laws. Some of these provisions went into effect in July 2022, but one area – pretrial detention – was not to go into effect until this month. However, a Kankakee County judge’s ruling on a lawsuit filed by state attorneys and sheriffs from 65 counties has put the new law on hold.

Pretrial Detention Under the SAFE-T Act

Under the new law, cash bail in Illinois is abolished. This provision of the SAFE-T Act – referred to as the Pretrial Fairness Act – the following changes are made to the Illinois cash bail system:

  • Eliminates money bond in Illinois

  • Only defendants accused of qualifying charges will be incarcerated while they await trial. A judge must declare the defendant either a specific threat to another party or they pose a high flight risk

  • Provides new regulations for risk assessment tools. These tools cannot be the only basis for a judge to impose pretrial incarceration and any information used for the scoring must be given to defendants and their defense attorneys

  • Police are now allowed to issue citations instead of arresting individuals, as well as having the authority to release an individual who has been arrested but has a court date, as long as that defendant does not pose a risk to the public

  • Penalties for technical violations of pretrial release (i.e., missing a hearing date), as well as misdemeanor arrests, will not result in defendants losing pretrial freedom indefinitely. Violations that were previously classified as felonies will now be classified as Class A misdemeanors

Lawsuit Puts Effective Date on Hold

Although the passage of the Pretrial Fairness Act was welcomed by many criminal justice advocates, it has not been embraced by law enforcement. A lawsuit filed by 65 Illinois counties claims that the new law violates the state’s constitution in several ways. In December, a Kankakee County judge agreed with the plaintiffs and ruled that the Act was unconstitutional, prompting the Illinois State Supreme Court to prohibit it from becoming law on January 1.

Citing the need for all the state’s counties to be on the same page and to avoid potentially massive confusion in courthouses throughout the state, the Court has also agreed to hear arguments for both sides on an expedited basis. Last week, the Court stated that would likely be around March, with a decision sometime in the spring.

Contact a Lake County Defense Lawyer

The delay in implementing the Pre Trail Fairness Act means that cash bail is still in effect in Illinois. If you are arrested and charged with a crime, do not risk sitting in pretrial incarceration because you did not have a skilled Cook County criminal attorney advocating for you. Call The Law Offices of Matthew R. Gebhardt, P.C. at 847-239-4703 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.   




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