The police are notified and an investigation is conducted.
If they have enough evidence at that time, the police may make an immediate arrest of a suspect or suspects.
If the suspect or suspects are not immediately arrested or more investigation is needed, the police will continue their investigation, and when completed may request that a warrant be issued for the suspect or suspects.
If the crime is a felony offense (punishable by a term in prison), the police must contact the State’s Attorney’s Office for approval of charges after an arrest is made.
Once a defendant is arrested, the defendant will appear in court for a bond to be set by a Judge. The purpose of the bond is to ensure the defendant will appear in court and to protect the public.
The case is assigned to a courtroom, based on the type of charge, and an Assistant State’s Attorney from the State’s Attorney’s Office will be assigned to prosecute the case.
At an initial court appearance, an arraignment of the defendant will occur, where a Judge will inform the defendant of the charges against them and also the defendant’s rights under the United States and Illinois Constitutions. The defendant may have their own attorney represent them. If the defendant is indigent, the Judge may appoint an attorney to represent the defendant.
The next stage requires both the Assistant State’s Attorney and the defendant’s attorney to gather and review police reports, medical evidence, laboratory reports, photographs, and other evidence each side intends to use at trial. Each side is to provide a copy of that evidence to the other side before trial.
Depending upon the complexity of the case, multiple court dates may occur. Those court dates may include hearings on legal matters, pretrial motions to determine the admissibility of certain evidence, and status dates.
Once all discovery and motions are concluded, the Assistant State’s Attorney and the defendant’s attorney may discuss a possible agreed outcome to the case if the defendant were to plead guilty. Most criminal and traffic cases are resolved by plea negotiations, prior to a trial.
If an agreement is not reached, the defendant may elect to have a trial by a jury or by a Judge or the defendant may plead guilty to the charge(s) and request the Judge to impose a sentence allowable under the law.
If the defendant is found guilty at a trial or enters a plea of guilty without an agreement with the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Judge will hold a sentencing hearing. At the sentencing hearing, a pre-sentence report from Court Services will be presented to the Judge. Both the Assistant State’s Attorney and the defendant’s attorney will present evidence and arguments as to what the appropriate sentence for the defendant should be, based on the nature of the crime committed. A victim impact statement, by either the victim or victim’s family, may be presented to the Judge, with the assistance of the State’s Attorney’s Office.
The Judge, after considering all the evidence, nature of the crime, factors in aggravation and mitigation, past criminal history of the defendant, and sentencing alternatives, will impose a sentence authorized under the law.