Signing Law

The Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act, also known as the SAFE-T Act, is an Illinois statute that was signed into law by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker in January of 2021. Drafted by a group of law makers, the SAFE-T Act has made groundbreaking changes to the Illinois’ criminal justice system. The most notable change is the elimination of cash bail. While many states across the country have entertained the idea of eliminating cash bail, Illinois is the first state to make the controversial change. With the SAFE-T Act set to go into effect on January 1, 2023, many people are still left confused as to what exactly the SAFE-T Act will change about Illinois’ criminal justice system.

To get a full understanding of the SAFE-T Act, it is important to talk about the reasons why it was created. The most obvious reason for its inception was to ensure that the judicial system continues to work fairly for everyone. Law makers drafted the SAFE-T Act with the intentions of creating a judicial system that is no longer influenced by an individual’s economic status. Under Illinois’ current cash bail system, an individual charged with a crime is only eligible for release if they could afford to pay their bail. However, under the SAFE-T Act, an individual’s financial status will no longer play a role in whether they are eligible for pre-trial release. Instead, their eligibility for release will be determined by a judge at a hearing.

A common misconception regarding the SAFE-T Act is that it would make it easier for serious criminals to reenter our streets. This misconception is rooted in the idea that our current cash bail system was effective in preventing criminals from reentering our streets. However, a basic understanding of our cash bail system reveals that it doesn’t prevent individuals charged with a crime from reentering the streets, it just requires that they pay money first. It is important to understand that our current cash bail system was not designed with any public safety components in mind.

Now, that you understand why the SAFE-T was created, it is time to explain how it will change the way our judicial system works. The SAFE-T Act requires that a judge conduct an indepth hearing before deciding to take away someone’s freedom. Starting January 1, 2023, if you are charged with a forcible felony, a judge will schedule a hearing to determine whether you are eligible for pre-trial release. A forcible felony in Illinois includes crimes like murder, second degree murder, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual assault, robbery, and burglary. (A full list of forcible felonies in Illinois can be found under 720 ILCS 5/2-8). At this hearing the state will be required to submit offers of proof to the judge detailing different factors that would make someone ineligible for pre-trial release. Common factors include whether you pose a risk for fleeing prosecution, whether you pose a danger to the community, and whether you have fled prosecution in the past. (725 ILCS 5/110-6.1(g) lists additional factors that a judge will consider when deciding eligibility for pre-trial release).

If a judge ultimately determines that you pose a risk under any of these factors, then the judge will order that you be detained. On the other hand, a judge will order that you be released, if the judge finds that the state has failed to prove that you pose a significant risk under these factors. This new system for determining pre-trial detention adds credence to our presumption of innocence. It is effective because it requires that the state submit additional proof to a judge before that judge makes the decision to take away an individual’s freedom.

Although the SAFE-T Act helps create a more fair and just criminal justice system, it is still important to seek out proper legal guidance when charged with a crime. Luckily, Pissetzky Law LLC is here to help. Pissetzky Law LLC is a Chicago based law firm that is passionate about all matters related to criminal defense. It’s founder, Gal Pissetzky, has developed a team of experienced trial attorneys that combine their vast legal knowledge with their superior understanding of the court system to provide the best possible resolution to their clients. Mr. Pissetzky’s devotion to excellence has awarded him a place as an Illinois Driminal Defense Attorney SuperLawyer. If you or a loved one have any questions or concerns regarding the SAFE-T Act, please feel free to visit our website at for further contact information.