True/False: Illinois Does Not Detain Serious Offenders

There is an assumption that Illinois does not keep those accused of crimes like second-degree murder, robber, burglary, or kidnapping in police custody until trial. Instead, to ensure that cash bail is abolished, offenders are allowed to be released until an official summons for their court date.

This claim is categorically false and has caused quite a bit of confusion. Keep reading for more information.

The Truth

Some news outlets have stated that the Pretrial Fairness Act which will go into effect on January 1, 2023, will eliminate police custody for serious crimes. These outlets claim that the bill will endanger the public and victims because the defendant will not be under police custody in the time between their arrest and trial.

Typically, after an arrest and after charges are filed, a person may wait in jail for their court date either because of the crime or because they cannot afford the cash bail amount. The Pretrial Fairness Act seeks to remedy the situation and allow those who cannot afford cash bail to stay at home.

However, there are no non-detainable offenses. Instead, individuals may stay at home instead of in jail if they pose no risk to public safety. If a person does pose a threat to the public or is a flight risk, they may still be kept in police custody.

Generally, there are higher standards for what is considered a public threat or risk which will make keeping some individuals in custody difficult. Understandably, prosecutors are concerned that the standards are too high to include those who have not been accused of egregious crimes but still pose a threat to themselves and others and who may attempt to flee.


News media outlets in Illinois have run rampant with false claims that the Pretrial Fairness Act will create a ‘Purge’ environment where crime is essentially condoned by the state. Fear tactics such as this have been prevalent since the introduction of the Act and the Safe-T Act. Progress toward a cash bail-free criminal justice system is uncertain, but making such progress ensures that more people are not held in “debtor’s prison” while they await trial.

Have you been accused of a crime? Contact Johnson Law Group for more information.

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