Your Case. Our Cause.

Top Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyers addresses developments in the SAFT-T-Act

by | Jan 1, 2023 | Firm News

As a top Chicago criminal defense lawyer, I have been asked to address developments in the SAFE-T-Act. The Act has generated an immense amount of interest from defendants, defendants’ families and loved one, politicians, and the press. The Act is designed to essentially, but not entirely, eliminate cash bail system. This is an important development because, far too often, defendants who lack means to post bond are incarcerated for unduly lengthy periods of time prior to trial. Conversely, other defendants, who may have been charged with the very same offense, or a greater offense, or who have extensive criminal histories, are frequently released on bond because they have the means to post it. The cash bail system also often undermines a defendant’s willingness to proceed to trial, and makes his/her entry of a plea agreement more likely. Practically speaking, the costs to a defendant’s family and his or her loved ones is often even greater. Defendant’s lose jobs and family connections and roles while their cases are pending, and their families are often those that suffer as a result of the cash bail system. The Act has generated a lot of public controversy over the past several months, particularly because of the recent election cycle. The Act has been portrayed as allowing all criminals to go free, and as endangering the public. The Act has also been misrepresented in the sense that it has been portrayed as entirely taking away the cash bail system and as entirely taking away a Judge’s discretion. Those representations are not accurate because Judges would still have discretion with respect to particular offense and particular circumstances to have a defendant detained. However, the standard for doing so would be changed to make it more difficult for a prosecutor or Judge to make an appropriate record that a defendant should be detained, despite the provisions of the Act. The most recent developments with respect to the Act both occurred this past week. As expected, a State court trial Judge held the Act to be unconstitutional. The decision was not binding on other courts. That decision did however result in the Illinois Supreme Court indicating that it will take up the constitutionality and enforceability of the Act on a presumably expedited basis. Therefore, enforcement of the Act has been stayed Statewide. It is hoped that the Illinois Supreme Court will uphold the Act, or only mandate slight modifications to it.

Written by Michael Leonard

Leonard Trial Lawyers

January 1, 2023