In many criminal cases, and certainly with regard to felony cases, a judge will set a bond. In Illinois, ten percent of the stated bond amount must be posted in order for a person to be released from custody. That is, if the judge orders a person held on a $500,000 D-bond (where the D stands for “deposit”), that means that the person must post $50,000 or remain in jail awaiting trial.
For many people, $50,000 is a significant amount of money that cannot be obtained easily or quickly. For some people, $5,000 is a significant amount of money to gather in a short period of time. And for some, $500 is a significant amount of money to come up with. Money is relative, and it all depends on the individual defendant and his or her support group that is marshaling the resources to get these funds together for the purpose of bond.
If your loved one is in custody on a bond that is too high for you to post on their behalf, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to do what is called a Motion to Reduce Bond, or a Motion for Bond Reduction.
725 ILCS 5/110-6 states in part, “Upon verified application by the State or the defendant or on its own motion, the Court before which the proceeding is pending may increase or reduce the amount of bail or may alter the conditions of bail bond or grant bail where it has been previously revoked or denied.”
What this means is that bond, once set, is not written in stone. The State may do a motion (that is, make a request) for the bond to be increased or decreased. It is extremely rare for the State to ask for bond to be decreased; they almost always ask for a bond increase. The Judge may examine the bond and increase or decrease it on his or her own motion. The Defendant may also ask for the bond to be increased or decreased – although it would be very rare for a defendant to ask that it be increased, as most defendants in custody are eager to be released.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will make a proper request for the bond to be reduced in a case where it is set too high for the person to be able to post. A proper Motion to Reduce Bond requires a detailed mitigation intake, either with the defendant himself or, if that is not feasible, with a family member or friend that knows the defendant, and is aware of important information about his or her life. Common factors in mitigation, which are used for the Motion to Reduce Bond, include things like education, work history, family, and other community involvement.
Another way to make a strong argument to reduce bond is to make the Court aware of new information that was not made available to the Court during the first bond hearing, when the bond was initially set.
The Motion to Reduce Bond should be written in the proper format and timely filed with the court, allowing for three days’ notice to the State before it can be heard by the Judge. The Judge will typically hear arguments, from both the Defendant and the State, and then make a decision as to whether or not bond should be decreased, or kept the same.
It is very unusual to get the bond reduced by more than half of the initial bond amount. That is, if the bond was originally set at $50,000, it would be very unlikely to get it reduced to less than $25,000.
If a Motion to Reduce Bond has been heard and denied, that does not mean that it cannot be done again. A second Motion to Reduce Bond can be drafted, filed, and heard. However, with each successive Motion to Reduce Bond, its likelihood of success becomes less and less. What is most helpful to additional motions to reduce bond is new information, or a change in the defendant’s circumstances.
So if your loved one is in custody and the bond is too high for him or her to afford, do not lose hope. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney and request that they file a Motion to Reduce Bond to try to convince the judge to reduce the amount that must be posted.