Sequence of Events

  1. A crime occurs.

  2. A victim or witness informs the police department.

  3. The police department conducts an investigation.

  4. If there is probable cause and a suspect is identified, an arrest is made.

  5. In the case of a misdemeanor crime, the police prepare a complaint charging the suspect with the appropriate crime.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. The case is assigned to a courtroom and an Assistant State's Attorney.

  9. 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 the crime.

  10. An arraignment is held at which time the defendant is formally charged with the crime and a judge informs the defendant of Constitutional rights.

  11. 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 reviewed.

  12. 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.

  13. A trial date is set by the judge.

  14. The Assistant State's Attorney prepares the case for trial by contacting expert witnesses and interviewing all witnesses.

  15. The defendant has the option whether to have a bench trial (without a jury), or a jury trial.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.