Bond/Preliminary Hearings

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Bond/Preliminary Hearings

Tower Legal attorneys focus on representing individuals facing criminal charges throughout the entire criminal justice process—from the arrest and bond hearing to the preliminary and pre-trial hearings and ultimate trial. For those unfamiliar with the criminal justice system, the process can be overwhelming and confusing. Let the experienced attorneys at Tower Legal take over the case and provide you with some peace of mind. We are experts in criminal law and can help you successfully navigate the system and provide you with dedicated defense representation.

What is a bond hearing?

After an arrest, and before release from jail, the person arrested has a right to a bond hearing. This is a hearing before a judge that determines how much bond is required. For misdemeanor cases, it is most likely that bond can be posted at the jail without a bond hearing before a judge. Minor offenses often have a set bond amount that can be posted at the jail, and an officer there will tell you the date when you need to attend court. With more serious offenses, a bond hearing will take place in front of a judge.

What is a bond?

Illinois does things a little differently than many other states. Under Illinois law there are no bail bondsmen in Illinois, and all bonds are paid to the court. The bond is a payment that guarantees you will appear in court and not run off. There are three types of bonds in Illinois:

  • D-Bonds—You must pay 10% of the bail amount to the court. The money is then held by the court. As long as you appear in court as required, the money will be returned to the address indicated on the bond form when the case has concluded, minus a 10% court fee. For example, if bail is set at $10,000, you will pay $1,000 to the court as your bond. Provided you appear as required throughout the case, when the case is concluded $900 will be returned as a check to the address indicated on the bond form ($1,000 minus a 10 percent court fee of $100). Of course, if you fail to appear, you forfeit the entire amount.
  • I-Bonds—Also known as personal recognizance bonds, these bonds do not require any payment. You are released on your word that you will return to court as required; however, if you fail to appear, you may be required to pay the full bail amount set.
  • C-Bonds—For these bonds, you must pay the entire bail amount to get out of jail. This can be required for Class X felonies under the Controlled Substances Act and the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act and for those accused of threatening or committing terrorism.

What happens at a bond hearing?

Within 72 hours of the arrest, the accused must appear before the judge at a bond hearing. It is at this hearing that the bond amount is set. The judge will hear:

  • The charges
  • The basic facts of the case
  • The accused’s criminal history
  • Information on behalf of the accused

After hearing from both sides the judge will consider:

  • The offense
  • Possible sentence
  • Evidence
  • The accused’s family and community ties
  • The accused’s criminal history
  • The accused’s financial resources
  • The accused’s character
  • The likelihood that the accused would flee

More serious offenses with higher sentences will result in higher bail amounts, whereas strong family ties and a low flight risks may result in lower bail amounts. The judge will weigh all known information and make a determination of what bond is set.

What are possible outcomes of a bond hearing?

There are several possible outcomes of the bond hearing:

  1. A D-bond is set requiring the defendant to pay 10% of the bail amount to be released on bail. Once the amount is posted, the defendant is released. If the defendant cannot post the bond, the defendant will stay in jail until the case is concluded.
  2. An I-bond is set releasing the accused on his/her own recognizance.
  3. A C-band is set requiring the accused to pay the full bail amount. Once the bail is paid, the defendant is released. If the full amount cannot be paid, the defendant will stay in jail until the case is resolved.
  4. No bail is set. For serious crimes or those with a high flight risk, there is the possibility that no bail will be set and the accused will remain in jail until the case is resolved.

How can an attorney help me at a bond hearing?

An attorney can be a great help at the bond hearing. Experienced criminal attorneys can argue on your behalf and help you get a fair bail amount set. Not only does the attorney have knowledge that can help him/her argue about precedent, but criminal defense attorneys also have the ability to make clear and articulate arguments that can resonate with the judge. It is in your best interest to have a criminal defense attorney represent you at the bond hearing to ensure that your rights are protected and that an appropriate bail is set.

What is a preliminary hearing?

The next step after the bond hearing is usually the preliminary hearing, but this may not occur if there is an indictment by a grand jury. At this first hearing the judge will determine if there is:

  • Enough evidence to show that a crime was committed
  • Enough evidence to show that the defendant may be responsible for the crime

This isn’t a full trial and the burden of proof is much lower. The judge simply needs to determine if either is likely true. During the process, the state will present witnesses to provide evidence and the defense has a chance to question these witnesses.

In a best case scenario, the judge will determine that there is not sufficient evidence and the case will be dismissed. However, even if the case proceeds, the cross examination of witnesses that occurs during the preliminary hearing may provide information that can help the defendant’s case during the future trial.

What is a Grand Jury Indictment?

Sometimes, instead of a preliminary hearing, a grand jury will meet and decide whether or not to indict. For this a group of people meet, much like a jury, and determine whether or not there is enough evidence to indict the accused. This is a private occurrence and neither the defendant or the attorney for the defendant is present. You will be notified afterwards about the indictment.

Where do I get help?

When accused of a crime, get help from a Chicago criminal defense lawyer. Tower Legal has experienced attorneys that are prepared to help defendants fight charges and maintain their rights and their freedom. Call Tower Legal today to discuss your case and obtain valuable expertise.