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Although the state of Illinois does allow defendants accused of a crime to be released on bail, the state does not allow the operation of commercial bail bond companies. Instead of private bail bondsmen, Illinois requires that bail bonds be obtained from government agencies usually a county or state organization. In order to obtain this bail, defendants must either pay a percentage of the bail up front, usually ten percent, or provide some form of collateral like real estate. Once the defendant appears for their court date, the deposit is returned or the lien is removed.
Also unlike most other states, Illinois does not permit the activities of private bounty hunters. Illinois does not even permit out-of-state bounty hunters from pursuing fugitives that have entered the state. The pursuit and apprehension of fugitives is reserved for law enforcement officers only. State law allows bounty hunters who apprehend a fugitive in the state to potentially be charged with kidnapping.
Bail Procedures in Illinois
According to the Chicago Police Department, anyone except those charged with a capital offense or a crime which carries a possible sentence of life in prison is eligible for bail. A police officer may receive bail once the judge has set the bail amount. The bail cannot be provided by an attorney currently practicing in the state. This bail is typically determined by judicial officers of the Central Bond Court.
Court officials utilize the “C” Bond Book to record when a defendant has provided the total bail amount in cash. The “D” Bond book is utilized for deposit bail or when a defendant has provided about ten percent of the bail amount in the form of cash. The “I” Bond Book records all defendants who have been release on their own recognizance.
History of the Illinois Bail Bond Industry
In 1963, the state passed the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 which abolished the commercial bail bond and bounty hunting industries. This law was passed to limit private bail companies from exerting undue influence upon the release of offenders who could present a risk to public safety.
In 1985, the attorney general of Cook County, Richard Daley, proposed major changes to the state’s bail laws. He criticized the bail system as inefficient, detrimental to the rights of defendants and a risk to the public welfare. At the time, almost 40 percent of all felony offenders who are eventually convicted were released on bail within 24 to 48 hours of arrest. Daley proposed that the nine felony branch courts that currently make decisions to grant bail transfer this responsibility to a centralized bail court which would hold the sole duty of determining if a defendant should be bailable and determining the bail amount. The proposed changes also included expanded authority for bail judges who could deny bail for crimes of a serious nature but did not meet state requirements.