A crime occurs.
A victim or witness informs the
The police department conducts
If there is probable cause and
a suspect is identified, an arrest is made.
In the case of a misdemeanor
crime, the police prepare a complaint charging the suspect
with the appropriate crime.
If the crime is a felony, the
police contact the State's Attorney's Office. Details of the
case are reviewed by the screening attorney who decides on
what charges will be filed against the alleged offender.
A bond hearing is held within
48 hours of an arrest where a Bond Court Judge sets the bond
amount. The bond is used as means to ensure the defendant's
appearance at court, not as a form of punishment.
The case is assigned to a
courtroom and an Assistant State's Attorney.
If the crime is a felony, a
preliminary hearing or a Grand Jury proceeding is held to
determine if a crime has been committed and there is
reasonable grounds to believe the alleged offender committed
An arraignment is held at which
time the defendant is formally charged with the crime and a
judge informs the defendant of Constitutional rights.
The case enters the discovery
phase where both the assigned Assistant State's Attorney and
the defense attorney collect evidence and prepare for trial.
Police reports, medical examiner reports, lab results,
fingerprint tests, gunpowder tests, blood samples, hospital
reports, photographs and other evidence is collected and
A series of court dates are set
by a judge in order to determine that the case progresses in
a timely fashion. Examples of these preliminary court dates
are for discovery orders (exchange of investigative
reports), pretrial motions, hearings, etc.
A trial date is set by the
The Assistant State's Attorney
prepares the case for trial by contacting expert witnesses
and interviewing all witnesses.
The defendant has the option
whether to have a bench trial (without a jury), or a jury
If the defendant is found
guilty, the judge orders a Pre-Sentence Report by the
Probation Department and a sentencing hearing is scheduled.
A Pre-Sentence Report details the specifics of the crime,
gives a background history of the defendant and if requested
by the judge makes a sentencing recommendation.
At the sentencing hearing the
Assistant State's Attorney argues for an appropriate
sentence and may introduce evidence of past criminal
involvement. The Assistant State's Attorney may ask a victim
to read a Victim Impact Statement detailing how this crime
affected the individual. The defense will argue for what
they believe is an appropriate sentence and may introduce
evidence in mitigation. After arguments, the judge
determines the sentence.