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How the Misdemeanor Criminal Process Works

Posted in Criminal Defense on Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

If you were charged with a misdemeanor, you are likely afraid and unsure of what will happen to your future. Getting arrested is a stressful experience, especially if you are unfamiliar with Illinois’s criminal justice system. Criminal charges can have lasting impacts on your life, making it complicated to find employment or obtain child custody, so a misdemeanor charge is not to be taken lightly. Illinois law divides misdemeanors into three classes, and the severity of the penalties depends on the type of misdemeanor. 

While the penalties of a misdemeanor are less severe than those of a felony, you’ll need an effective legal defense to prevent the worst outcome. Your first step should be to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can carefully explain your options to protect your freedom. 

Complaint and Investigation

Criminal cases often begin with a complaint, although this is not true for all circumstances. When someone believes they have witnessed or been involved in a crime, they may choose to contact the police and submit a complaint. Law enforcement will investigate the alleged crime, which typically involves testimony and collecting evidence. If the investigation shows that there is reasonable suspicion for a crime, you will be arrested and held in police custody.


Your first court appearance takes place as an arraignment. Here, you will learn about the charges the prosecutor has filed against you. Then, the judge will set a bond with specific conditions to determine how much money will be needed for bail. The judge may establish a “no contact” order and allow the defendant to visit a shared residence one time to gather certain belongings.

Pre-Trial Hearing

A pre-trial hearing allows attorneys to complete a discovery phase to gather additional evidence that was not provided during the arraignment. While a pre-trial hearing does not automatically mean there will be a trial, the defendant will be able to request and schedule a trial date If necessary. This provides the opportunity to plead guilty or request that the matter be prolonged so that additional time can be used to reach a resolution at the hearing. Our legal team is highly experienced with the criminal justice system and can help you navigate the process so that the resolution you need is more likely.  

Trial Phase and Sentencing

With the help of their attorney, defendants will choose between a bench trial or a jury trial. The trial allows both sides to present their case, which involves sharing their evidence and examining witnesses. The prosecution will then argue for a sentence that they deem appropriate based on the information presented, and the judge will consider these arguments in the final decision. For a misdemeanor, you may face up to a year in prison or fines up to $2,500 depending on the misdemeanor’s classification. By working with an attorney, you significantly increase the chances of lowering your charges or avoiding the worst penalties altogether, which is why you should not hesitate to seek legal assistance immediately after being accused of a crime. 

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately

If you were charged with a misdemeanor and aren’t sure what to expect, know that you don’t have to navigate the process alone. Sabuco Beck, P.C. provides tenacious representation for clients accused of a crime to help you protect your future. Review your misdemeanor case with our attorneys by calling us today. 

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