New Procedures For Morgan Co. Court In Wake of End of Cash Bail

By Benjamin Cox on September 19, 2023 at 10:00am

The State of Illinois’ criminal justice system got its official makeover on Monday when the final portions of the SAFE-T Act went into effect, ending the cash bail system.

Morgan County State’s Attorney Gray Noll explains some of the procedural changes that will now happen when some is stopped for an alleged crime: “It does add a few new procedures for the criminal justice system in order for somebody to be detained prior to a finding of guilty. The new procedure requires what is called a pretrial detention hearing to be held. As we sit here today, it is difficult for me to tell you how many of those we will have. Whether we will have 3 a day or 3 a month, it’s difficult to predict. However, the procedures that are going to be put in place here in Morgan County would dictate that if there is a pretrial detention hearing, those will be held at 2PM generally on the day after the individual is arrested. All of this will certainly be a work in progress for our office, for the court system, for the public defender’s office. It is a different way of doing business in the criminal justice system, but as of right now, as far as court procedures go that is the main change.”

Noll says that those who commit minor criminal offenses listed as Class B or Class C misdemeanors will be released with a notice to appear, or a ticket – similar to what a person gets when they commit a minor traffic offense.

He says those who commit Class A misdemeanors and above will still be arrested and taken to the local jail and be fingerprinted and booked. He says only under certain, very particular circumstances would the lower crimes ever see the inside of the jail for booking.

Noll says that it won’t require emergency hearings in the wee hours of the morning: “The timelines that are spelled out in the statute don’t dictate that we have to wake up a judge, disturb court, or do anything in the middle of the night. It will basically be anybody who remains in our jail overnight, the next business day our office will quickly read the report, determine whether or not we feel it’s appropriate to file pretrial detention petition, and if so, those people will remain in custody until they are brought over for the pretrial detention petition hearing. Those individuals that we feel it is not appropriate to hold will then just be cut loose without having to post any cash bond.”

Noll says these procedures are all a work in progress, and he suspects changes will be made to the system locally and possibly at the state level.