Harvard drug defendant can post bond (as he should be able to).

If you follow some of the other nonsense I post on the internet you know how I’m annoyed by anything that might be considered excessive bail.  So, when it comes to bonding people out of jail, you can say I’m a little touchy.  The article in the Northwest Herald today about the man arrested as part of the recent drug sting in Harvard strikes a nerve.

It’s not that the article is poorly written or mixes up the law- it doesn’t. It’s the idea that the government can force you to prove where your bond money comes from in certain situations:

Defendant in Harvard drug ring allowed to post bond

Published: Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 3:11 p.m. CDT
By JIM DALLKE – jdallke@shawmedia.com
WOODSTOCK – A defendant in an alleged Harvard drug ring was allowed to post bond Thursday after the defense was able to prove that the bond money would not come from illegal drug sales.
* * *
Earlier this week the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office filed motions to inspect the source of each of the defendant’s bond money.
* * *
Judge Sharon Prather accepted the testimonies and also reduced Figueroa’s bond from $150,000 to $120,000.
The arrests were part of a year-long investigation by the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department where officers said they made at least eight cocaine buys from the individuals….

I know you’re wondering why I find that annoying, right?  For a couple of reasons. First, people think it’s “so hard” to prove a defendant committed a crime.  After all, the government has the burden and they have the nearly impossible job of convincing the judge or jury.  The reality is that, in nearly every other situation (there are a few exceptions, but they rarely come into play) the defense has the burden.  Almost always.

You want your license back when it’s wrongfully suspended for a DUI? Prove it.  Police held you in an interrogation room for 14 hours and threatened to torture you if you didn’t confess to something you didn’t do?  The courts will presume that you’re wrong. Prove it otherwise.

The second, and more important reason has to do with that “technicality” they call “the constitution.”

You know what the Illinois constitution says about bail? I do:

SECTION 9. BAIL AND HABEAS CORPUS
All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for the following offenses where the proof is evident or the presumption great: capital offenses; offenses for which a sentence of life imprisonment may be imposed as a consequence of conviction; and felony offenses for which a sentence of imprisonment, without conditional and revocable release, shall be imposed by law as a consequence of conviction, when the court, after a hearing, determines that release of the offender would pose a real and present threat to the physical safety of any person. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases of rebellion or invasion when the public safety may require it.

What about the federal constitution? Boom:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

So, you’ve got a constitutional right to be able to post bail in nearly all cases.  You’ve got a state constitutional right to bail in nearly every case.

Where does it say anything about a person have to prove anything?

The criminals in McHenry County are always getting off easy…

I’m always amused to read the internet comments about the McHenry County Justice system.  Many of them think nobody gets harsh sentences.  Like, the judges in Woodstock are just letting people go “for the hell-of-it.”

Today a defendant took a deal for 45 years.  I know what you’re thinking, too- the dumb prisons are probably going to give him all sorts of “good time” and let him out early.  Nobody ever does all the time they’re sentenced too.  Not on cases in Woodstock, anyway.

The prevailing idea that prisons just open the doors and let people out whenever they want is the most ignorant belief people can have about the system.  Nearly any defense attorney, prosecutor, or judge in the courtroom knows exactly how long a sentence will be.  At a minimum, anyway (the that “good time” guys can get off is designed to keep them on their best behavior in the Big House… the prisons can always lengthen the time to it’s maximum sentence).

So, in this particular case the defendant got 45 years on a bunch of different counts.  Turns out, 42 of them are at 85% and 3 of them are at 50% (to be served consecutively).  So, that’s 35.7 years (42 times .85) and 1.5 years (3 times .5) for a total of 37.2 years of actual time spent.  There are also one (depending on current politics) or two more blocks of good time he can get for a total minimum time of 36.7 years (most likely 36.95, though).

If you don’t like that math, don’t blame the courts or prisons, though. Blame yourself. Your elected leaders formulated that system several years back.  If you want it to be 100%, elect the people who will pass that law… and also figure out how to fund the added burden.

Anyhow, people think nobody in McHenry County gets tough sentences.  That defendant is 39 years old.  He will be about 76 years old before the Department of Corrections can even think about letting him out.  That’s older than the average life expectancy for a male in this country.  The average life expectancy for a male in prison is lower, too. A lot lower.

If you’re going to get hung up on numbers and quibble that defendant only got 45 years for his crimes and that’s not “enough years,”  I suppose you could argue his sentence could have been more severe.  If you look at the practicalities and do the math, though, the guy very well got a life sentence.

Tell me how everybody in  McHenry County gets off easy, again?