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What Do You Do if You Are On Trial For a Crime in Illinois?

A crime is a breach of federal or state criminal statutes. When the law charges an individual for a crime, there are two ways a defendant can respond to it - to plead guilty or not guilty. Background to the events leading up to charges is as follows:

  • The crime incident
  • The police investigation and arrests

Charges come after the liable person is arrested. A misdemeanor offense is referred to as a complaint or "information." A complaint is a notice filed by the arresting officer stating the alleged offense, and information refers to a court-filed document that is completed by a prosecutor. For felonies, charges are filed either by information or indictment. An indictment is different from information because the document is filed on behalf of a grand jury, which states the existence of a probable cause of the arrestee as being the offender. The charges are read to the offender at a court arraignment session. The arrested individual is expected to respond in person, if present or by an attorney to the charges as being guilty, or not guilty. A not guilty plea bargain means that the defendant and his or her attorney would brace up for a court trial.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What Percentage of Criminal Cases go to Trial in Illinois?

The most recent edition of the Supreme Court of Illinois' Annual Report was published for caseload statistics in 2018. In this report, 80% of the criminal cases filed with circuit courts across the state proceeded to trial. The remaining 20% were cases that were either dismissed or did not require a trial.

When does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?

There are two types of trials in Illinois:

  • Jury trials
  • Bench trials

All criminal defendants have the right to a jury trial according (725 ILCS 5/103-6) (from Ch. 38, par. 103-6). Exceptions to the rule include are:

  • When the defendant waives the right to an open trial as a result of a guilty plea
  • When the offense violates an ordinance with a penalty of fine, and the defendant declines to file a demand for trial or refuses to pay the required fine to the court clerk.

Also, all criminal defendants in Illinois have a right to a speedy trial within 120 days from the date the accused was taken into custody or 160 days for those granted bail 725 ILCS 5/103-5) (from Ch. 38, par. 103-5) Sec. 103-5. The law states that the trial's set date may not be extended unless delayed by the defendant. The law accepts the reasonable basis for delays such as health issues.

What are the Stages of a Criminal Trial in Illinois?

A criminal trial proceeding in Illinois state courts facilitates in some steps:

  • Selection of the jury
  • Opening Statement from the prosecution
  • Opening Statement from the defendant
  • Direct Examination of the evidence by the prosecution
  • Cross-Examination of State Witnesses by the defendant
  • Direct Examination of evidence by the defendant (if any)
  • Cross-examination of defense witnesses by the prosecution
  • Closing Argument by Prosecution
  • Closing Argument by Defense
  • A counter-argument by the prosecution

How Long Does it Take For a Case to Go to Trial in Illinois?

The maximum time limit during which a criminal case must go to trial in Illinois is 120 days for persons in custody and 160 days for persons on bond, from the date of arrest. The time count is consecutive and not cumulative. It means that the period of incarceration or bond is not calculated by adding separate pockets of arrests and bails. Similarly, a pre-trial hearing must hold within 30 days of arrest for persons in custody and 60days for persons on bail. Misdemeanors may take less time, especially if there are no adjoining matters that add to the severity of the case. On the other hand, Felonies may take longer, especially if there are complexities associated with the case.

What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in Illinois?

Each time an individual is arrested and charged for a crime in Illinois, there are a series of processes that follow. These processes are grouped into pre-trial, trial, and post-trial processes. Pre-trial processes for felonies include a felony review, a bond hearing, and an arraignment. At the same time, misdemeanors have charges filed without a jury in place of a felony review. At the arraignment, the defendant either pleads guilty and diverts from a trial or pleads not guilty and prepares for a trial. Preparation for the trial involves a process called "discovery," which means different things to each counsel. To the prosecution, discovery means collecting every piece of information that will prove the defendant to be guilty.

Here, the agency providing the service prepares a report upon interviewing the defendant. This information includes the defendants' ties with the community, employment history, criminal history, and other necessary facts. The information collected assists the judge in making informed decisions concerning the pre-trial release and bond approvals. The information is confidential and therefore is not released to anyone except the defense counsel and court without permission from the defendant. Pre-trial services agencies have officers that supervise persons granted a pre-trial release to ensure that they comply with court rules of procedure in line with 725 ILCS 185 et seq.

During the trial, the prosecuting counsel and the defending counsel present the case in a manner that attempts to convince the jury and the judge in each counsel's favor. The jury for criminal trials in Illinois is a 12-man assembly of persons appointed to assess the case and give the judge an unbiased opinion based on the facts set forth at the proceeding. The jury's selection is based on Illinois statutes, the state Supreme Court rules of procedure, and federal case law guidelines. After the counsels' closing statements, the jury looks over the facts and evidence and gives a verdict to the judge. The judge delivers the verdict and sets a date for the sentencing hearing.

During this period, the judge orders a presentence investigation. After the judgment has been passed, a convicted defendant has 30 days to file a post-trial motion. A post-trial motion is granted based on a convincing list of inaccuracies during the trial proceeding by the defense counsel.

Can you be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in Illinois?

No. The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution disallows all legal systems within the federation from trying an individual twice for the same crime. This amendment is often referred to as the "Double jeopardy clause". Illinois State Constitution, Section 10, also states this law. On rare occasions in the state judiciary system has had to review cases based on merit.

How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in Illinois?

The Circuit Courts in Illinois are the trial court with jurisdiction over criminal cases. Appeals may be referred to the Appellate Court of Claims or the Supreme Court. A criminal case may either be ongoing or already closed. Closed criminal cases are available at the Circuit Court Clerks offices in each of the 103 counties across the state at the court where the case was filed. These records are maintained in paper format by default, while some counties have online repositories. Ongoing criminal cases are not available in detail to the general public, except for persons involved in the case, their attorneys, and other legal backing persons.

How to Access Electronic Court Records in Illinois?

eFileIl is the central state repository for filing all court cases in the state. Some counties have an active status for electronic criminal case information, while some do not. Contact the local courthouse for information in this regard. Access is, however, limited to the parties involved, the judges, and court clerks. At the county level, some counties such as Christian County use third party websites for maintaining court records. Third-party websites such as provide useful links and search tools to help find these records.

How Do I Remove Public Court Records in Illinois?

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act allows citizens of the state to seek out and obtain court records of cases within the state judicial system. However, as it is with all public records, confidential information in the records is kept from public access. In Illinois, the following parts of court records are sealed from public access by default:

  • Names and addresses of victims of cases
  • financial records, such as social security numbers, and account statements
  • Juvenile records or details involving minors in a case
  • Identification data such as driver license numbers and state identification numbers

Some records are ordered to be sealed in entirety by court order on the judge's discretion that privacy may be more beneficial than the public interest in achieving a fair outcome of the trial. The record is sealed from public access, but it is accessible by law enforcement agencies and court officers. Court records can also be sealed upon the request of the involved parties. To do this, the involved parties should file a motion to seal the records. Another way to remove public court records is to expunge them.

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