Criminal Law & Arrests

300px-Arrest.svgILLINOIS CRIMINAL DEFENSE – LAWYERS WHO PROTECT YOUR INTERESTS

Being arrested is a stressful, scary experience.  For most people, it is a new experience that terrifies them.  You are usually handcuffed, put into a patrol car, and taken to jail.  You make the embarrassing call to a family member, friend, or loved one to have them bail you out.  What do you do from that point?

It’s easy.  The first step:  CALL A PROFESSIONAL.

WE FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS AND ACTIVELY COMMUNICATE WITH YOU.

At Hall, Rustom & Fritz LLC, it is our goal to provide our clients with the highest quality legal advice available while remaining professional throughout the entirety of our clients’ cases.  In Illinois, there are tens of thousands of arrests per year.  Unfortunately, this statistic will not provide you with comfort; however, it should serve to illustrate that many people are going through the same experience, having to defend and resolve cases with the least amount of punishment.

It is our duty to answer our clients’ questions in a timely manner, make our clients’ court appearances quicker and less stressful, and advise our clients as to the law to the best of our ability.

YOU ARE PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.

Many citizens forget that in our system of justice, the State must prove EVERY element of the charged offense against the defendant.  Juries are regularly instructed (in fact “commanded”) to hold the State and its prosecutors (county and municipal) to meet that burden.  It is important that you chose a lawyer who 1) is experienced in criminal defense; 2) knowledgeable with Illinois law; 3) familiar with prosecutors in the county of your arrest; and 4) regularly communicate with clients, answering all questions and returning all phone calls.

RESPONSIVE, CAPABLE AND ATTENTIVE LEGAL ADVICE.  LAWYERS WHO CARE ABOUT THE RESULTS WE OBTAIN FOR OUR CLIENTS.  WE MAKE OUR CASES PERSONAL.

If you have just been arrested in Illinois, you should expect the following to occur within the first 3 months of your case (assuming the police did everything they are required to do under the law):

Criminal Record Showing the Arrest

  • Once you are booked and fingerprinted, the arrest is reported to the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) where the arrest is recorded.  At this point, the arrest may likely show up on a background check.  It is not guaranteed, but it could show, depending on the depth of the background search.

Notice to Appear in Court to be Arraigned

  • Under Illinois law, you must be arraigned in open court.  An arraignment is when the judge announces the charges in open court, reads the indictment or “information” filed by the county prosecutor’s office, and he/she asks how you plead.  Typically, you will plead “not guilty” at this date and the case will be continued to another court date.  The next court date is usually the “Preliminary Hearing.”

Preliminary Hearing

A preliminary hearing is a hearing where the judge hears evidence to consider if there is enough probable cause to proceed forward on charges.  Many county prosecutors do not utilize the preliminary hearing but many still do.  In this hearing, prosecutors call witnesses to establish this “probable cause.”  Defense attorneys can challenge these witnesses at this stage and if utilized properly, a case can be “thrown out” at this stage – however, that is usually rare.

Many prosecutors in Illinois simply send the case to the county’s Grand Jury.  Each month (or week depending on the county), 18 jurors meet in private and the local State’s Attorney’s office presents evidence to the Grand Jury.  Typically, a police officer will testify at this hearing, regardless if his/her only testimony is hearsay.  Hearsay is allowed in grand jury testimony.  Further, defendants and their defense attorneys are not allowed unless invited by the State’s Attorney.  If invited, they are not allowed to participate, other than advising their client as to what they should and shouldn’t answer.

“A grand jury would indict a Ham Sandwich.”

This saying is surprisingly true.  Grand Juries typically indict nearly ALL cases put in front of them so don’t get your hopes up that the Grand Jury will reject an indictment.

Once they determine there is probable cause to proceed with the charges, they sign an Indictment stating the crime and its elements.

Pretrial Conferences

At pre-trial conferences, you will appear in court with your attorney and your attorney will discuss the case with the prosecutor.  If a trial is required (it is your right to have a trial by jury or judge), the parties will announce the status of the case and whether it will proceed to trial and if the parties are “ready for trial.” If ready, the case will be placed on the trial call. Depending on the age of your case, your trial may commence at the next court date or be delayed due to older or priority cases that take precedence over your case.

Jury Trial

  1. At your jury trial date our case will be relatively newer than other cases.  Those cases will take priority over your case.  Your jury trial will be continued on the Court’s motion, our own motion, or the State’s motion, depending on the circumstance.
  2. We will instruct you as to whether you will need your witnesses to be there at each setting. We will do our best to anticipate when your witnesses will be needed.
  3. If your jury trial proceeds to the actual trial, the following is a typical jury trial day (depending on the County):
    • 11:00 a.m.:  Jury selection begins
    • 12:00 a.m.:  Break for Lunch
    • 1:00 – 1:30 p.m.: Pretrial Motions
    • 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.:  Trial Commences
  4. Opening Statements
    1. State/Prosecutor opens first, then we open our case.
  5. State’s Case in Chief
    1. State presents their evidence, calls their witnesses.
    2. We are allowed to cross examine any and all witnesses called by the State.
  6. State Rests
  7. Defense Case in Chief
    1. We call our witnesses and present our evidence.
    2. You may or may not wish to testify. This is something we will discuss prior to the jury trial commencing.  You have the absolute right NOT to testify if you so choose.
  8. Defense Rests
  9. State’s Rebuttal
    1. The State can call witnesses to rebut any testimony we presented.
    2. We are allowed to cross examine any rebuttal witness they call to testify.
  10. Defense Rebuttal
    1. We can call witnesses to rebut any testimony provided by the State.
  11. Closing arguments
    1. The State will go first and we will go second.
    2. The State will be allowed to have a 2nd closing after us, since the burden of proof is on them so they are allowed to speak first and last.
  12. Jury Instructions
    1. The jury will be asked to go in their jury room while the judge goes over the instructions to be given to the jury (with the prosecutor and us).
    2. After going over the instructions, the jury will be brought back in and the Judge will instruct them.
    3. The jury will then be sent to deliberate.
  13. Jury Verdict
    1. Once reaching a verdict, the foreperson will read the verdict and the jurors will then be released.
    2. If found Not Guilty, the case will be over and you are free to go.
    3. If found guilty, the case will be set over for a sentencing hearing, where the judge will hand down your sentence.
  14. Sentencing Hearing
    1. You can bring any witness you feel could persuade the judge to go easy on you.  You can leave it up to the judge to determine the punishment or we can accept any plea offer that the State recommends.
    2. You will likely be the one to testify here.  I will question you on what you have learned from the process, whether or not you have accepted responsibility for your actions, what you are doing to prevent this from ever happening again, whether or not you have surrounded yourself with positive influences and a strong support system, etc.

CONCLUSION

It is important that you are represented to the fullest extent of the law if you are facing criminal charges.  Many collateral consequences could occur and you will need competent legal representation.

Attorneys at Hall, Rustom & Fritz LLC concentrate in the area of criminal defense.  Managing Member Jeffrey R. Hall is the former criminal prosecutor in Tazewell County, IL and he has many years of experience in the area of criminal defense since switching from prosecuting to defending.  Contact Attorney Hall at (309) 699-4691 or email him at jhall@hallrustomfritz.com.

CALL THE LAWYERS AT HALL, RUSTOM & FRITZ LLC TO GET LEGAL REPRESENTATION IF YOU ARE ARRESTED IN ILLINOIS SO WE CAN PROTECT YOUR INTERESTS.

We’re here to help you in your time of need.  Contact us today and schedule a free case evaluation.  You will receive experienced, hard-working, no-nonsense, affordable Peoria area Criminal Defense lawyers for your case.

Hall, Rustom & Fritz LLC – Concentrating in protecting our clients, their families, and best interests.

Hall, Rustom & Fritz, LLC, 316 SW Washington Street, Suite 1A, Peoria, Illinois 61602