Being arrested can be a very intimidating experience. Being taken to the county jail, finger printed, and having one’s photo taken while being detained with complete strangers can be frightening and dangerous. It is advantageous to the accused’s health, safety and in prepairing a defense that they obtain their release from custody. Hiring a good criminal defense lawyer can go a long way towards obtaining a reasonable bond.
The purpose of this article is to provide a basic explanation of the bond system in Illinois and bond reduction hearings in general. It is strongly advised that you consult with and retain an experienced criminal attorney when facing criminal charges.
In Illinois, bail is set by the court, by statute and by Supreme Court Rules. There is a set formula for bond in misdemeanor and traffic cases, however, bond in felony cases is set by the court. There can be a broad variance in bonds set in felony cases due to the fact that the sitting judge has almost complete discretion as to what amount to set bond at in a felony case. Bond for the same level of offense with similar facts may be completely different based solely on who the sitting judge is.
When the judge sets the bail, there are statutory factors the judge must consider when determining what amount of bail (bond) to set to reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant, the safety of the community and the compliance with the conditions of bond. The factors the court must consider when setting bond are enumerated at 725 ILCS 5/1110-5(a). The court must consider the following factors when setting bail:
- The nature and circumstances of the offense charged.
- Whether the evidence shows that as part of the offense there was a use of violence or threatened use of violence;
- Whether the offense involved corruption of public officials or employees;
- Whether there was physical harm or threats of physical harm to any public official, public employee, judge, prosecutor, juror or witness, senior citizen, child or handicapped person;
- Whether evidence shows that during the offense or arrest, the defendant possessed or used a firearm, machine gun, explosive or metal piercing ammunition or explosive bomb device or any military or paramilitary armament;
- The condition of the victim;
- Any written statement submitted by the victim or proffer or representative by the State regarding the impact which the alleged criminal conduct has had on the victim and the victim’s concern, if any, with further contact with the defendant if released on bail;
- Whether the offense was based on racial, religious, sexual orientation, or ethnic hatred;
- The likelihood of the filing of a greater charge;
- The likelihood of conviction;
- The sentence applicable upon conviction;
- The weight of the evidence against such defendant;
- Whether there exists motivation or ability to flee;
- Whether there is any verification as to prior residence, education or family ties in the local jurisdiction, in another country, state or foreign country;
- The defendant’s employment, financial resources, character and mental condition, past conduct, prior use of alias names or dates of birth, and length of residence in the community;
- Whether a foreign national is lawfully admitted in the United States;
- Whether the government of the foreign national maintains an extradition treaty with the United States by which the foreign government will extradite to the United States its national for a trial for a crime allegedly committed in the United States;
- Whether the defendant is currently subject to deportation or exclusion under the immigration laws of the United States;
- Whether the defendant, although a United States citizen, is considered under the law of any foreign state a national of that state for the purposes of extradition or non-extradition to the United States;
- The amount of unrecovered proceeds lost as a result of the alleged offense;
- The source of bail funds tendered or sought to be tendered for bail;
- Whether, from the totality of the court’s consideration, the loss of funds posted or sought to be posted for bail will not deter the defendant from flight;
- Whether the evidence shows that the defendant is engaged in significant possession, manufacture, or delivery of a controlled substance or cannabis, either individually or in consort with others;
- Whether at the time of the offense charged he was on bond or pre-trial release pending trial, probation, periodic imprisonment or conditional discharge pursuant to the Criminal Code or comparable Code of any other state or federal jurisdiction;
- Whether the defendant is on bond or pre-trial release pending the imposition or execution of sentence or appeal of sentence for any offense under the laws of Illinois or any other state or federal jurisdiction;
- Whether the defendant is under parole or mandatory supervised release or work release from the Illinois Department of Corrections or any penal institution or corrections department of any state or federal jurisdiction;
- The defendant’s record of conviction;
- Whether the defendant has been convicted of a misdemeanor or ordinance violation in Illinois or similar offense in other state or federal jurisdiction within the 10 years preceding the current charge or convicted of a felony in Illinois;
- Whether the defendant was convicted of an offense in another state or federal jurisdiction that would be a felony if committed in Illinois within 20 years preceding the current charge or has been convicted of such offense and released from the penitentiary within 20 years preceding the current charge if a penitentiary sentence was imposed in Illinois or other state or federal jurisdiction;
- The defendant’s records of juvenile adjudication of delinquency in any jurisdiction;
- Any record of appearance or failure to appear by the defendant at court proceedings;
- Whether there was flight to avoid arrest or prosecution;
- Whether the defendant escaped or attempted to escape to avoid arrest; and
- Whether the defendant refused to identify himself, or whether there was a refusal by the defendant to be fingerprinted as required by law.
- Whether the evidence shows that the offense committed was related to or in furtherance of the criminal activities of an organized gang or was motivated by the defendant’s membership in or allegiance to an organized gang.
- The consent of the defendant to periodic drug testing in accordance with 725 ILCS 5/110-6.5.
When setting bail, the bail must be sufficient enough to assure the compliance with the terms of the bond and must consider the financial ability of the defendant and not be oppressive. Illinois does not utilize bail bondsmen. Once Bail has been set, a person may be released by posting 10% of the bail with the clerk or at the county jail.
When a defendant is charged with a Class X felony under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act he may be required to post 100 % of the sum set. Once an individual posts bond he will be released with a bond sheet which will provide the next court appearance and the conditions of her bond.
This article is not all inclusive and is not a substitute for retaining the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. However, hopefully, you have been provided with a basic understanding of how Illinois’ bail process works and the factors the court considers when setting bail.