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Steps in a Criminal Court Case

Posted in Criminal Defense on Monday, November 9th, 2015

Steps in a Criminal Court Case

Being arrested for a criminal charge is a serious matter. A conviction for either a misdemeanor or felony criminal charge will remain on your record and can ruin your reputation, preventing you from getting jobs or participating in various activities. It can even affect your ability to obtain a student loan or mortgage.

From the moment you are arrested or charged, you need a skilled attorney aggressively defending your rights and managing your case. At Sabuco, Beck, Hansen, Massino & Pollack, P.C., our experienced Illinois criminal law attorneys understand that many people who face criminal charges have little to no experience with the Illinois criminal justice system. Understanding the steps involved in criminal court cases can help to ease some of your anxiety and ensure that the actions you take are in your best interests.

Steps in Misdemeanor Court Matters

Under Section 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-55 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, misdemeanor charges are those that carry penalties of up to one year in prison. Though less serious than felony charges, individuals who are accused of misdemeanor crimes such as retail theft, assault or battery, reckless endangerment or possession of drug paraphernalia are still subject to arrest and may be required to post bond before being released. While in both misdemeanor and felony charges the process of arrest is the same – you will be fingerprinted, a mug shot will be taken, and you will be placed in a holding cell – the particular steps in a misdemeanor court case are as follows:

  1. A bond hearing is held. In misdemeanor matters, there are often preset bond amounts. The judge makes a determination as to whether you are required to pay bond or grant an O.R., which is a release on your own recognizance, meaning no bail is required.
  2. An arraignment hearing is held. The Judge reads the complaint and you have the opportunity to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty.
  3. The next step is scheduling a trial. The majority of cases do not make it to the point and are settled as part of a plea bargain. While plea bargains are often in a person’s best interest, you are not obligated to accept one. Your right to go trial is protected by the Illinois State Constitution.
  4. Sentencing occurs once a plea bargain has been agreed upon or after you have been found guilty at trial.

The period immediately after arrest is the best time to contact an experienced criminal law attorney.

Steps in a Felony Court Case

Being charged with a felony is more serious than being charged with a misdemeanor. You could be facing considerable jail time if you are found guilty of your charge. In light of the serious nature of these charges, there are additional processes to go through before these cases are brought to trial. After being arrested, the steps in a felony court case are as follows:

  1. A felony review is conducted, presenting the opportunity for your release or to have your charges reduced.
  2. A judge will determine if you are eligible for bond and will set the amount.
  3. Your charges may be referred to a grand jury for indictment. If the jury fails to indict based on a lack of evidence, the charges are dropped.
  4. In lieu of a grand jury indictment, your charges may be filed through the district attorney’s office. You are then entitled to a preliminary hearing at which it will be determined if there is probable cause to charge you with the crime. If no probable cause exists, your charges will be dropped.

Similar to misdemeanor cases, an arraignment will then be held and you will be afforded the opportunity to enter a plea or you may choose to go to trial. With all the opportunities to have your charges reduced or dropped prior to arraignment, it is vitally important to have an experienced criminal attorney working on your behalf.

Call Our Experienced Will County Criminal Attorneys Today

If you are facing criminal charges, you need aggressive legal representation to ensure your rights are protected and your name is cleared. At Sabuco, Beck, Hansen, Massino & Pollack, P.C., our team of experienced Will County criminal law attorneys have the knowledge to provide our clients with the kind of hard-hitting legal defense that gets results. With offices throughout Will County and the surrounding area, call Sabuco, Beck, Hansen, Massino & Pollack, P.C. today at (815) 730-8860 for an initial consultation.

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