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Judge's ruling pushes toward bail reform

A Chicago judge ruled on July 17 that defendants who are not considered to be dangerous do not have to remain in jail while awaiting trial if they cannot afford bail. In a statement, the chief judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, which includes the city of Chicago, said that defendants should not be punished simply because they do not have financial resources to pay bail.

When a person is first detained, he or she will provide the county with information regarding whether or not he or she has the ability to pay bail. If the person cannot pay, no bail will be set. Judges will have the ability to release defendants on electronic monitoring, which does not require a payment.

The order is scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 18 for felony cases. For misdemeanor cases, the order will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. Defendants who are considered to be a danger to the public will be held without bond.

When those who are accused of committing a crime are detained, they can face an array of legal challenges. Between court hearings, bail and court costs, those who were accused of committing even minor crimes could have difficulty continuing with normal life. A criminal law attorney may assist such clients by walking them through the legal process and mounting a defense against the charges. The attorney may challenge the charges if there is evidence that the authorities who detained the person did not have appropriate cause to make an arrest.

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