Esmeralda Aguilar, 24, is charged with four felony counts of aggravated battery to a peace officer but released thanks to a new state law abolishing cash bail. (Chicago Police Department)
According to Fox News report on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, a 24-year-old woman from the Chicago suburb of Cicero, Illinois named Esmeralda Aguilar was arrested over the weekend for allegedly attacking four Chicago police officers
She was charged with four felony counts of aggravated battery to a peace officer.
However, Aguilar was released from custody on Monday without having to post any cash bail due to Illinois’ new Pretrial Fairness Act, part of the SAFE-T Act.
The Pretrial Fairness Act eliminates cash bail in Illinois.
Under the new law, judges can still order pretrial detention if a defendant poses a threat to public safety.
But if the judge determines the defendant does not pose a danger or flight risk, they must be released without cash bail.
Aguilar’s release so soon after her arrest for allegedly assaulting multiple officers has sparked criticism from some, including Illinois state Senator John Curran.
He said this case “highlights the misplaced priorities of Illinois’ criminal justice system when the prosecutor prioritizes the freedom of a violent offender over the safety of those police officers dedicated to protecting and serving our communities.”
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, led by Kim Foxx, declined to comment specifically on Aguilar’s case.
Foxx stated publicly that her office “stands ready to implement the Pre-Trial Fairness Act” and detain those who pose a real threat while avoiding detaining the poor.
Supporters of ending cash bail say it unfairly penalizes low-income defendants who can’t afford bail.
Critics counter it could free dangerous offenders, as Chicago battles violent crime.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle called the law’s implementation a “milestone on the path toward economic and racial justice.”
Aguilar’s next court date is September 25th. She was released without pretrial detention pending trial.
The law’s impact is being closely watched in Illinois and nationally.
Chicago is grappling with crime, including attacks on police.
Just before the law took effect, two men were charged with felonies for allegedly using wooden flagpoles to attack officers at an abortion rights protest.
Cash bail abolition has been enacted in multiple states to reduce pretrial incarceration rates.
But its rollout in Illinois is high-profile given Chicago’s crime rates. Police unions strongly opposed the law before it passed the Democratic-controlled state legislature in 2021.
This first case has amplified concerns that ending cash bail unconditionally could let violent criminals walk free.
However, supporters maintain judges can still detain dangerous defendants.
The law’s implementation will be important to monitor if public safety is maintained.
The Aguilar case immediately highlighted tensions around cash bail reform on its first day.
While equity advocates see this as progress, critics fear the worst.
How courts balance public safety, flight risk, and leeway for non-violent offenders will determine if the law achieves its goals.