State Senator Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) and DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin today announced proposed legislative changes to strengthen “Failure to Appear” (FTA) laws. Noting the significant increase in the number of people not showing up to court, Connelly and Berlin said their proposal is an effort to ensure individuals, who are out on bond, are appearing in court when ordered.
The proposed changes include:
- Individuals, who are out on bond and fail to appear in court, would be charged with an offense of the same Class (instead of the next lower Class) of the original crime he or she is charged with.
- Makes the “Failure to Appear” offense non-probationary for felony violations.
The DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office said they noticed an increase in FTA violations since the Bail Reform Act of 2017 became effective in January 2018. The Bail Reform Act allows individuals who have been arrested for minor crimes to get a rehearing of their bail amount if they can’t afford to post cash bail. Other options are also available for those in custody for nonviolent misdemeanor or low-level felony offenses. These options may include electronic home monitoring, curfews, and drug counseling.
“While the Bail Reform Act is a significant step in helping to reform our criminal justice system here in Illinois, it is very possible that it is causing the recent spike in individuals not showing up to court,” said Connelly. “My proposed legislation would not get rid of the new bail provisions found in the Bail Reform Act, but would instead, strengthen the penalties on those who fail to come back on their court date. These individuals must be held accountable, and I think one way to do that is to create stricter laws against bail bond violators.”
“For our system of justice to function properly, those who commit crimes must be held responsible,” Berlin said. “Since the Bail Reform Act of 2017 became effective, we are seeing a substantial increase in defendants who find themselves fortunate enough to be afforded an I-Bond or low cash bond deciding that it is in their best interest to ignore the courts and simply not appear in court as previously ordered. This is unacceptable. Court orders are not optional. The legislative changes proposed today will not only encourage defendants to appear in court when ordered but will also help ensure that those individuals who do skip out on their bond will face significant additional penalties.”
According to data from the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office, from Jan. 1, 2017 through July 31, 2017 compared to Jan. 1, 2018 through July 31, 2018, the amount of Category A cases increased by 21 percent, but the number of individuals who failed to appear in court increased by 83 percent. Similar data is found when looking at Category B cases—the number of cases increased by 8 percent but the number of FTAs increased by 71 percent.