Defendant Wins Appeal to Vacate Detention Order Under SAFE-T Act
An Illinois defendant was charged with felony murder and armed robbery as an accomplice. The trial court was asked to determine whether or not the defendant should be freed while awaiting trial under the SAFE-T Act. The SAFE-T Act officially does away with cash bail and went into effect on September 18th, 2023. Illinois became the first state in the country to officially do away with cash bail. Now, prosecutors can petition judges to hold a defendant during trial based on several criteria related to their case. In other words, it gives judges discretion when it comes to holding a defendant during their trial.
In the case of the People v. Mosley, Mosley was charged with felony murder and armed robbery, two “forcible felonies” that constitute a threat to public safety. The Circuit Court denied the defense’s motion to release the defendant while he awaited trial arguing that there was enough presumptive proof that the defendant committed the felony in question and that he was a threat to members of the community. The court also found that the defendant posed a flight risk. Hence, the court issued a detention order for the defendant who would be held in jail until his trial was complete.
The defendant filed an appeal related to the detention order. In the detention order, the court noted that the defendant had been charged with a detainable offense, a non-probational forcible felony. The defendant’s case had taken place prior to the SAFE-T Act going into effect. The defendant had paid a security to the state to be released while awaiting trial. The court found that the state’s petition to hold the defendant under the SAFE-T Act was untimely, resulting in a vacating of the detention order.
Understanding the SAFE-T Act in Illinois
The SAFE-T Act was an effort by Illinois legislators to make the bail system more fair to the poor. In many cases, bond would be set by the court and only individuals who could afford to pay the bond were released from jail while awaiting trial. In these cases, prosecutors were able to leverage confessions and guilty pleas from defendants who were unable to pay the bond just so that they could get out of jail and return to their homes. Several defendants chose to plead guilty to crimes they could have beaten in court simply because they wanted to go home.
The SAFE-T Act was an effort to change the cash bail system and make it more equitable to poorer defendants. Under the SAFE-T Act, a judge can determine based on several factors whether or not a defendant should be released while they are awaiting trial. Judges use factors such as the nature of the crime and whether or not the defendant poses a risk to public safety. They also consider whether or not the defendant is a flight risk.
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