Illinois Criminal procedure is a set of laws that dictate how a person who has committed a crime in the state be processed through the justice system. The Illinois Compiled Statute 725 includes 7 titles each with several articles that prescribe the procedure for the arrest of the offender, the issue of an arrest order that may be required to bring the perpetrator to books , release on bail, trial, verdict and sentencing. The criminal procedure of the state comes into the picture when an individual is arrested or if a formal complaint is lodged against him by the police or the victim of the crime in a court of law.
Depending on the nature of the crime, when it was committed, witnesses to the incident and the risk level of the offender, the police may/may not seek an arrest order to detain a person. If a criminal act is committed in front of a peace officer, the law enforcement official has complete authority to arrest the perpetrator of the crime on the spot without enlisting the help of a judiciary to get a formal arrest order.
An arrest without a warrant is also possible if a police officer has any reason to believe that a person has committed a crime or is likely to commit it in the near future. However, in many cases, a formal warrant is the only way to detain an individual legally. In order to protect the rights of the accused, non partial entity is given the responsibility of deciding whether or not the situation merits the issue of an arrest warrant.
The judiciary plays this role; the sitting magistrate is presented with all case related data based on which he/she has to ascertain that there is probable cause to hold the person in question culpable. Once this has been established, a signed order for detention is issued which is known as an active arrest warrant. The document can be used at any time or any place to take the person in custody.
When accused of a misdemeanor, the complaint is filed at the local police station and it merely mentions the charge that the accused has violated. Those arrested for misdemeanor are usually released on recognizance or Individual bonds (I-bond). Of course, this is the procedure only for less serious crimes like retail theft where the value of goods is limited to $150 or less, simple battery, trespass etc.
In contrast, in case of a felony, charges can be filed by information or indictment. When the accused is charged by information, a preliminary hearing is held where the judge once again ascertains that there is probable cause to believe that the person in question has indeed committed the crime. A preliminary hearing is usually short with the arresting officer and other law enforcement personnel offering their testimony in the matter.The DA’s office only has to prove that it is more likely than not that a crime was committed and the person brought in has committed that crime.
For an indictment hearing, the case is presented by the state in the same way as they would for a preliminary hearing. However, this time the matter is being brought before a grand jury comprising of 12 laypersons. If they can establish probable cause the indictment is issued.
The choice of how a felony is charged rests with the state. In fact, if they lose a preliminary hearing, the DA’s office can always submit the very same matter for reconsideration at an indictment.
Once charged with the crime, the next step is the arraignment hearing where the defendant enters a plea and is granted bail depending o the seriousness of the crime and his/her criminal history.
The Illinois Criminal Procedure also lays down the law for convictions, verdict, execution of the sentence, post trial appeal by defendant and forfeiture of property etc.