Understanding the Process of Criminal Cases in Illinois
Being hit with a criminal charge can be a scary thing, especially if you do not know what to expect. The process through which you go through when you are accused of committing a crime is basically the same throughout the country, with a few differences here and there, depending on which state you are facing charges in and the specifics of your individual case. Here is what you can expect to happen in an Illinois criminal case:
Initial Incident and Arrest
Involvement with the criminal justice system begins when you are accused of violating some sort of local, state or federal law. Before you can be arrested, the police officer must have probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime. Before the police can begin to question you, you must be informed of your Miranda rights, such as the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Being informed of your Miranda rights is crucial in criminal investigations. If you have been interrogated by the police and your Miranda rights were not given, an experienced trial attorney would seek to have those statements excluded from your trial. In essence, it would be as if you never spoke to the police to begin with.
Before you go to trial, you are scheduled to attend an arraignment, during which the formal charges that are being brought against you are read to you and you must enter a plea. You can plead guilty, not guilty, or guilty but mentally ill. If you plead guilty, the court will not accept the plea until the judge explains the consequences of that plea and is sure that your plea of guilt was made freely. If you plead not guilty, the court moves ahead to a trial. If you refrain from speaking, it is assumed that you have pleaded not guilty. If you declare that you are guilty but mentally ill, you will be required to undergo examinations by a criminal psychologist or psychiatrist who will compile a report for the court to be used at a hearing to determine your mental state.
The actual trial will be held to determine whether or not you are guilty of the charges brought against you. If it is a bench trial, the judge will make the determination. If it is a jury trial, the jury, which is comprised of 12 jurors, will make the determination. During the trial, evidence will be presented and witnesses will be called to the stand by either side to present their case. You will hear the verdict at the end of the trial, which may be guilty or not guilty. If you are found not guilty, the case ends. If you are found guilty, a date will be set for you to be sentenced.
A Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
If you are facing criminal charges, it is imperative that you contact a skilled and experienced Will County criminal defense lawyer. The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. can help. As a former Will County prosecutor, Jack Zaremba knows the ins and outs of the Illinois criminal justice system and can help you fight to keep your criminal record clear of a conviction. To schedule a free consultation, call the office today at 815-740-4025.