New Criminal Laws In Illinois Enacted In 2023

new criminal laws

In 2023, Illinois witnessed substantial alterations in its criminal legal framework. The implementation of the Illinois SAFE-T Act is set to reform various facets of criminal law within the state. The most significant shift involves the elimination of cash bail, positioning Illinois as the pioneering state to abolish this practice under all conditions. Additionally, the SAFE-T Act encompasses modifications in criminal sentencing, prison regulations, and police reform measures.

The Safety, Accountability, Fairness, and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act

Enacted by the Illinois legislature in 2021, and an effective date of January 1, 2023, the SAFE-T Act aims to abolish cash bail and foster racial and criminal justice. Advocates of the bill contend that the cash bail system penalizes poverty, resulting in the incarceration of low-income defendants, while allowing those with financial means secure release. 

The termination of cash bail is anticipated to address issues of racial and criminal justice and decrease the number of individuals in pretrial detention. Further insights into the law’s enactment are detailed in our piece, “5 Facts About the Illinois SAFE-T Act.”

Policing Reforms Under the Safe-T Act

The Safe-T Act introduces an array of police reform measures, with key aspects including:

  • Restrictions on the use of force, particularly chokeholds.
  • Limitations on using deadly force in property crime cases.
  • Mandatory body camera use for all officers by 2025, with specific storage requirements for the footage.
  • An enhanced misconduct database allowing anonymous complaints.
  • Exclusion of police discipline from collective bargaining.
  • Prohibition on acquiring certain military equipment.
  • Enhanced police training focusing on skills, tactics, de-escalation, and use of force (30 hours every three years).
  • Obligation for police to intervene in cases of excessive force and provide first aid.
  • Citation issuance instead of custodial arrests for Class B misdemeanors and non-threatening situations.

These reforms have encountered resistance from several law enforcement groups, including the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and various Fraternal Order of Police lodges. While law enforcement voices concerns over various provisions, proponents aim to enhance accountability and promote equitable criminal justice in Illinois.

Judicial Process Reforms in the Safe-T Act

The year 2023 also brings changes in judicial procedures. Judges may opt for a notice to appear, rather than an arrest warrant, if a defendant misses a court date. This shift means defendants are responsible for attending subsequent court appearances. The most extensive changes revolve around abolishing cash bail.

Pretrial Fairness Act of the Safe-T Act

Effective January 1, 2023, the Pretrial Fairness Act is a crucial component of the Safe-T Act. It outlines the abolition of cash bail and the procedures for the new pretrial detention system. Judges must adhere to these procedures and justify any pretrial detentions on record. The act also mandates data collection on the pretrial system.

The New Pretrial Detention System

  • In the new system, judges cannot set cash bail, and the assumption is for defendants to be released pending trial.
  • If the prosecution seeks detention, they must petition the court, triggering a pretrial detention hearing within 48 hours of custody.

Grounds for Pretrial Detention

  • Charges punishable by imprisonment without probation with clear evidence.
  • Defendants deemed a public safety risk to specific individuals.
  • High likelihood of the defendant fleeing to evade prosecution.

Safe-T Act Prison and Sentencing Reforms

  • Detainees are entitled to three phone calls within three hours of new custody.
  • Enhanced sentence credits for educational and work release programs.
  • Expanded support for pregnant prisoners.

Safe-T Act Sentencing Reforms

  • Certain felony drug offenses are reclassified as misdemeanors.
  • Additional freedoms while under electronic monitoring.
  • Shortened parole durations for some offenses.
  • Restrictions on filing first-degree murder charges in specific circumstances.

Crime Victims’ Compensation and Driver’s License Suspensions Under Safe-T Act

  • Expanded definition of a ‘victim’ and simplified compensation request process.
  • Driver’s license suspensions for unpaid automated tickets, abandoned vehicle fees, or traffic fines are abolished (effective July 2021), impacting approximately 350,000 Illinois residents.

Given these extensive changes, navigating the evolving criminal law landscape in Illinois requires the expertise of a seasoned attorney for optimal outcomes. 

Our Mount Prospect Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help

If you have been charged with a crime in Illinois, the best course is to retain our experienced Mount Prospect criminal defense lawyers to stand up for your legal rights. Our attorneys have achieved favorable outcomes for many Illinoisans accused of a crime and we’re ready to fight for you. Contact our Mount Prospect criminal defense lawyers for your confidential consultation. Call Villadonga & Villadonga Attorneys at Law at (847) 298-5740.