Criminal Defense Lawyer Serving Clients in the Chicago Metropolitan Area
If you have been accused of committing a felony or misdemeanor in Chicago, you will likely be prosecuted in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Your case will begin with your arrest and may conclude with a dismissal of charges or a conviction secured through a guilty plea or trial. Without the right criminal defense lawyer, the entire process may be confusing and stressful.
Your freedom will be in jeopardy. Illinois felonies carry potential sentences ranging from one year to life in prison, and misdemeanors carry potential sentences ranging from one month to one year in the Cook County Jail. A jail term can be devastating for you – you may lose your job and your ability to provide for your family. Criminal convictions also carry other lasting and permanent effects. You may be required by the court to submit to a lengthy period of supervision, hefty fines, exorbitant restitution amounts, in-patient drug treatment programs, community service, and more. In addition, the conviction will remain on your record, affecting your ability to obtain a job, an education, public benefits, and housing.
When you are charged with a crime in Chicago, your first course of action should be to call a trusted and knowledgeable attorney. For free advice on your criminal charges, call Chicago criminal defense lawyer John Joyce at 773-789-7899.
Anatomy of a Criminal Case: Arrest
Your case begins with an investigation. Either an individual will file a complaint with the police and the police department will conduct an investigation or you will be apprehended at the scene of the crime. If you are not apprehended at the scene of the crime, a detective in charge of the investigation will request a warrant from a neutral magistrate judge. If the detective has probable cause to believe you committed a crime, the judge will issue an arrest warrant. If the detective has probable cause to believe contraband will be found in your home, business or car, the judge will issue a search warrant, which may then lead to your arrest.
When you are arrested, you will either be taken to the precinct for processing or you will receive a citation. The citation will state the date and time you must appear in court for arraignment. If you are taken to the precinct, you will be fingerprinted, photographed, and interviewed. An officer will later drive you to the Circuit Court for Cook County for a bond hearing to determine the amount of money necessarily to obtain your release. You could also receive what is called an I-Bond which means you do not have to post money to be released.
At arraignment, your charges will be read to you. The prosecutor may request that you be held pending trial. Pretrial detention may be predicated on: risk of flight, on probation or parole or danger to the community. If you are held pending trial, there may be a cash bond associated with your detention, this is called a D-Bond. If you pay the cash bond, you will be released. If you are released, you may be supervised by Pretrial Services. Common release conditions include drug testing, reporting weekly in-person or by phone, GPS ankle monitoring, no re-arrests, drug treatment, mental health treatment, and order to stay away from the victim or an address, and more.
Hearings and Status Dates
Arraignment occurs before a trial judge. However, your next hearing will occur before your assigned judge. This judge will the preliminary hearing and is often held at one of the six branch courts located in and around Cook County. You must appear for every hearing. Failure to appear can result in the issuance of a bench warrant. The judge may revoke your release and hold you pending trial. In addition, the prosecutor may bring charges for your failure to appear.
At any status hearing, the prosecutor may place the plea offer or any diversion offer on the record. Deferred Prosecution is a pretrial intervention program run by the prosecutor’s office that allows you to complete community service, mediation, drug treatment or mental health treatment in exchange for dismissal of your charges. A plea offer is a special offer negotiated between the prosecutor and your criminal defense attorney. If you agree to plead guilty, the prosecutor will offer you concessions, such as dismissing some of the counts in your case or requesting a more lenient sentence.
At the hearing, your Chicago criminal defense attorney may also argue any motions or bring to the judge’s attention any discovery issues he or she is having with the prosecutor. If you reject a diversion or plea offer, your case will be set for trial.
Prior to trial, your criminal defense attorney serving Chicago will conduct investigations, interview and subpoena witnesses, and craft a defense strategy. Your attorney may also file motions such as a motion to suppress evidence and/or statements given to police.
The trial will begin with opening statements. The prosecutor and then your attorney will give brief opening statements on what they expect the evidence to show. Then the prosecutor will begin his or her case-in-chief, calling prosecution witnesses and direct examining them. Your attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine each witness.
When the prosecution is finished with its case, your attorney may argue that the government has failed to prove its case, this is referred to as a Motion for Directed Finding. If the judge disagrees, your attorney will then be able to present evidence in the defense case-in-chief. Your Chicago criminal attorney will call witnesses and direct examine them, then the prosecutor will cross-examine them. You also have the right to testify in your defense. You also have the right to not testify and the judge will instruct the jury that your failure to testify should not affect how they view the case against you.
Both parties will then make closing arguments about how the jury should evaluate the evidence. If the jury returns a not guilty verdict, you are acquitted, and the case is closed. If the jury returns a guilty verdict, you will be sentenced by the judge. At sentencing, the judge will take into account the sentencing guidelines, any aggravating factors such as type of victim or heinousness of the crime, and any mitigating factors such as absence of criminal history.
If Charged with a Crime, You Need a Trial Lawyer
John Joyce is an agressive trial lawyer with the training and experience you need to win your case. Call us now at 773-789-7899 to receive a free consultation.