Bail has always been a tool to help people get out of jail until their trial. While not everyone can get bail, the majority of people facing charges have at least some kind of bail option.
In Illinois, the Pretrial Fairness Act has passed the Illinois legislature as a part of a criminal justice reform bill. This act eliminates cash bail, which means that those who could not afford bail in the past may not even need to come up with the money now.
Cash bail won’t be completely abolished until the beginning of 2023, but it will eventually be stopped. What this means is that those who are accused of nonviolent crimes and who historically could not afford bail will now be able to stay out of jail before trial. This is a major reversal from what used to happen in the past.
If bail is eliminated, then what can judges do to control the accused?
Sometimes, it is necessary to place restrictions on people facing trial. Judges in Illinois will be required to place only the least restrictive conditions needed to ensure that the defendant will come to court.
Cash bail’s elimination won’t be until 2023, and this may not apply to violent cases. As a result, it’s important for you to get to know your options if you’re accused of a crime now. You may still need to pay bail at the moment, which means that you could need to come up with hundreds or thousands of dollars to walk free before you have your trial.
What if you can’t afford bail?
The reason that cash bail is going to be abolished is because it has an unnecessary and unfair impact on those in poverty. If you can’t afford cash bail now, you could end up staying in jail until your trial, even if that trial is weeks or months from now.
During the hearing that establishes if you face bail or not, it may be helpful to have an attorney argue against bail and for other measures, like house arrest, to avoid having you stay in jail until a trial is possible.