Criminal law

Illinois law does not make murder or other crimes “non-detainable” offenses.


THE CLAIM: Suspects facing serious charges including second-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery, burglary and arson will no longer be held until trial under a first-of-its-kind new Illinois law in the nation that eliminates cash bail statewide.

ap Rating: False. Judges in Illinois will still have the discretion to order that suspects of these and other serious crimes be held in jail pending trial if they are deemed to pose a threat to public safety or an escape risk. But the new law imposes higher standards for meeting those conditions, which critics say will make it more difficult to detain people.

The facts: Social media posts and conservative media have been targeted Illinois Pretrial Justice Lawwhich is set to go into effect on January 1, distorting how the law works.

The posts list a range of violent crimes they say would be considered “non-custodial,” including second-degree murder, kidnapping, burglary, burglary, arson, and threatening a public servant. The flyers also include dire warnings that Chicago and other Illinois communities will soon turn into a real-life version of “The Purge,” a horror movie in which all crime — including murder — is allowed one night a year.

On January 1, 2023, Illinois will go down in history when it becomes the first state to experience a “purge”; “In real life,” one Instagram user wrote on Monday. “Ironically, the SAFE-T Act will charge criminals and release them without cash bail for 12 offenses that cannot be held now. These offenses include second-degree murder, aggravated battery, arson, and manslaughter. About drugs, kidnapping, burglary, robbery, intimidation, aggravated drink driving, aggravated absconding, drug offenses, threatening a public official. How do you feel about this?”

The post, which includes a picture of the masked robbers from the 2013 movie, had more than 80,000 likes as of Thursday.

The new Illinois law ends cash bail, or payments imposed by a judge, as a condition of a person’s release pending trial. It is among the most controversial parts of the The Safe-T Act, a broad criminal justice bill Illinois lawmakers passed it in 2021 In response to the national reckoning on racism and police brutality following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other people of color.

But the law does not create a new category of “non-detainable” offenses, as critics claim. Lauren Goldin, a professor of criminal law at Syracuse University in New York who studies pretrial detention and bail, said suspects can still be held in pretrial detention if they are deemed a risk to public safety or are likely to flee to avoid criminal prosecution.

The new law states: “Detention shall only be imposed when it is shown that the defendant poses a specific, real and present threat to a person, or has a high probability of willful flight.”

In addition to the accusedcoercive felonies“Probation is not an option if convicted, and pretrial detention may also be required under the law after a required court hearing,” said Benjamin Rudel, director of criminal justice policy at the ACLU of Illinois, who has been among the local advocacy groups. that supported this action. This includes serious crimes such as first-degree murder and criminal sexual assault.

Those arrested for coercive felonies such as second-degree murder, burglary, burglary, arson, kidnapping, and aggravated battery — offenses often cited by opponents of the bill on social media — are not required to hold a detention hearing because they are crimes. subject to the law. Probation. However, suspects may remain in detention until trial if the judge determines that they pose a threat or risk of escape.

“Contrary to the false arguments put forward by opponents, the new pretrial system will not release every person arrested for a crime,” Jordan Abudia, a spokesman for Democratic Governor JB Pritzker, said in an email. “It is a welcome reform of the current practice of releasing people who can post bail with minimal concern for the threat they may pose to survivors.”

However, the new law imposes higher standards for determining who is considered a public threat or flight risk, and critics worry that it will make it nearly impossible to detain a suspect before trial.

Prosecutors, for example, will now have to prove that the defendant poses a threat to “a specific, specific person or persons,” rather than a more general threat to society or a class of persons, or they will have to prove that that person has a “high probability of intentional flight.”

“This is a much heavier burden than it is used to today in courts across the country,” says John Walters, assistant attorney general in the office of Will County Attorney General James Glasgow, who has been a vocal critic of the new law. “The new standards are likely to be insurmountable.”


This is part of the AP’s efforts to address widely shared misinformation, including working with companies and outside organizations to add factual context to misleading content circulating online. Learn more about fact checking at AP.


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