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Anatomy of a Criminal Case

Brian L. Polinske
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Edwardsville Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer

The police receive a call that a house has been burglarized.  They respond, complete their investigation, and you are held in custody on a probable cause  for the offense.  The police officer takes a summary of the case to the State's Attorney, who then reviews the facts and, if warranted, issues a criminal charge called an "information" against you.  The judge approves the charge and creates a bond amount for the offense charged.  The bond varies depending on the severity of the crime, whether it is probationable, and the offender's prior criminal history,  and locale of residence. You either post bond or remain in jail until the case is disposed of.  Bond may be modified to a lower amount, higher amount, can be revoked after posting, or a property bond may be posted in lieu of cash. 

After being charged the defendant has the right to a preliminary hearing within 30 days.  After the preliminary hearing an arraignment (reading of the formal charge) and plea is entered.  Then a trial setting is given to the case.  Discovery is completed and any motions are filed and heard.  After all motions are disposed of the case is tried.  the trial can be either a jury or bench trial.  After trial if the defendant is acquitted he is released from bond (or custody if he didn't post bond) and the case is closed.  Bond is refunded to the surety, less 10%.  If he is convicted the case is set for sentencing.  If the charge is mandatory imprisonment the bond is revoked upon conviction.  The sentencing hearing is held after a pre-sentence investigation is completed and submitted to the judge.

After the sentencing the defendant has 30 days to file a notice of appeal.


This sums up the procedure that all defendants may expect.  There are many different types of motions that may be filed the defendants.  Everything ranging from change of venue, judge, mental capacity, discovery, constitutional violations, and bills of particular.  Each case is different. 

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