In response to a significant spike in “failure to appear in court” cases in DuPage County, State Representative Deanne Mazzochi is championing legislation that strengthens penalties for bail jumpers and improves public safety.
“Since the new Bail Reform Act took effect on January 1 of this year, DuPage County has experienced an alarming increase in the number of instances where accused people who are out on bail are skipping court-ordered appearances,” said Mazzochi. “For Category A offenses, which include serious felonies like domestic battery, burglary and aggravated assault, we saw an 83% increase in failures to appear, and for Category B offenses we saw a 71% increase. This tells me that we are not properly incentivizing people to show up in court. Especially in instances where an accused person knows he or she is guilty, they are deciding they would rather take their chances and flee than appear in court to answer to the charges brought against them.”
Through HB 5980, proposed changes to the Bail Reform Act include:
- Individuals who are out on bail and fail to appear in court would be charged with a failure to appear offense of the same Class (instead of the next lower Class) of the original crime with which he/she has been charged
- Failure to appear offenders would not be eligible for probation for bail jumping
When unveiling the bill, DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said, “Court orders are not optional. The legislative changes proposed 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 penalties.”
According to Mazzochi, DuPage County has also experienced an increase in felonies in 2018. Category A felonies have jumped 21% over the last year and Category B felonies are up 8%.
Mazzochi is hopeful that HB 5980 will be heard during the upcoming veto session. “We must address these alarming statistics swiftly and preserve public safety here in DuPage County and across Illinois,” Mazzochi said. “Those charged with crimes must recognize that the penalties that await them if they skip bail are not worth the risk.”