The criminal arrest process can be confusing and daunting. Being arrested for a crime or having a loved one arrested can be a life-altering event and the last thing you need to worry about is what to expect next in the criminal arrest process. We created this primer on the criminal arrest process after years of helping people and their families after they have been arrested for a crime. We understand that there is no such thing as a small crime or an arrest that is no big deal. We also understand that you have many questions and we created this primer to help answer some of those questions.
However, the most important thing that you need to know is that you don’t have to go through the criminal arrest process alone, we can be there to be your rock. All you have to do is call.
Criminal Arrest Process: The Arrest
The criminal arrest process begins when a police officer arrests someone for a crime. The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution requires the police to have a warrant before they can arrest someone. However, the general rule requiring a warrant has many exceptions and the 4th Amendment allows searches and seizures that are based upon probable cause. Probable cause can occur if the police officer sees someone committing a crime or after being called to a investigate a possible criminal violation.
How the arrest is conducted is within the discretion of the police officer and what crime the officer alleges that you committed. For example, if you are arrested for an Illinois DUI and face its potential severe sentence, the police officer will likely request that you perform field sobriety tests, take a breathalyzer, or take some other type of testing such as a blood or urine draw. An Illinois DUI arrest will also include additional procedures and paperwork to comply with the Illinois Statutory Summary Suspension laws.
Misdemeanor arrests such as aggravated speeding may not even require a formal arrest and the police officer may simply issue a citation to appear in court at the traffic stop and let the driver leave. However, the police officer will typically conduct a formal arrest and take you to the police station for booking after an arrest for misdemeanor offense or any other offense where the sentencing option after a conviction includes jail time.
After an arrest is when the constitutional protections for an arrested person take hold. Once the arrest occurs, the police must bring the arrested person to a judge within a certain period of time and that is when the person’s Miranda rights take effect.
Criminal Arrest Process: Charging a Crime
A common misconception that we encounter is whether a person can bring charges against someone because of something that person did or whether you can drop charges against someone because you changed your mind and you no longer wish to proceed in prosecuting the person. The answer to both questions is the same; individuals do not charge people with crimes only the federal or state government can charge someone with a crime. Individuals can only file a civil lawsuit against another individual but they cannot file criminal charges. The difference being a civil lawsuit involves you being compensated financially if you are successful and criminal charges carry with it possible incarceration and fines that get paid to the government and not the victim of the crime.
After the arrest how the criminal arrest process continues depends upon whether the police officer made an arrest for a misdemeanor crime or a felony offenses. If the arrest is for a misdemeanor arrest, the police officer will issue a misdemeanor compliant.
If the arrest is for a felony offense, then the police officer will call the Felony Review Unit of the State’s Attorney’s Office to seek approval of the felony charges. If felony charges are approved, then a grand jury or a judge after a preliminary hearing must authorize probable cause for the charges.
Criminal Arrest Process: Bond Hearing
After a grand jury or a judge finds probable cause to proceed, the next step in the criminal arrest process is the bond hearing. A bail bond is a cash deposit with the court that allows you to remain out of custody while the criminal arrest process continues.
How much the bail bond amount set by the judge will depend upon the nature of the crime, your background, and your flight risk. Misdemeanor offenses usually have a maximum bond amount that may be imposed by law. A judge following a bond hearing sets bond amounts for felony offenses and domestic battery charges. Once bond is posted the individual is released from custody and the criminal arrest process continues. If the amount of bond cannot be posted or a no bail bond is issued then the individual will remain in custody until the end of the criminal justice process.
Criminal Arrest Process: Arraignment
After the State files charges against you the next step in the criminal arrest process is the arraignment. At arraignment hearing, the court will formally announce in open court the charges that have been brought against you by the government. Once the charges are read, the court will ask that you enter a plea to each of the charges that have been filed against you. At this point, if you retain Jaleel Law P.C. we will enter a plea of not guilty on your behalf and file the initial pretrial motions that are required in your case.
Criminal Arrest Process: Pretrial Motions
Once we enter a plea of not guilty on your behalf, the next step in the criminal arrest process is mounting a defense in your case. Every case requires filing at least some pretrial motions. For example, every criminal case whether felony or a misdemeanor charges are filed requires the filing of a motion for discovery that puts the State on notice of all the evidence that they must provide to us in preparing your defense.
The types of pretrial motions that can be filed in your case are virtually limitless. Aside from discovery motions, valid pretrial motions include motions to suppress, motions to change venue, motions for sanctions, motions to dismiss, and motions to substitute judge.
Criminal Arrest Process: Trial
Once all the pretrial motions are resolved your case is set for trial and you can demand a speedy trial if you desire. At trial the State has to prove each and element of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt to overcome the presumption of innocence that you carry in a criminal case. At trial, you are not required to testify or call any evidence on your behalf. However, to help ensure victory your case needs to be properly investigated and the evidence you have negating your guilt needs to be presented in the most persuasive manner.
In all criminal cases you have a right to be tried by a jury of your peers, which means that 12 people chosen by your attorney and the prosecuting attorney will decide whether you are guilty or not guilty of the charges. However, it maybe more advantageous to waive your right to a jury and be tried by a judge who would decide your fate.
Being arrested or investigated for a crime is not only a frightening matter but it could very well impact the rest of your life. The criminal arrest process is not something that is worth handling yourself or letting an inexperienced attorney handle. Hiring an attorney that knows how the criminal justice system works and one that knows how to work the system to your advantage, is the only attorney worth hiring at this time. Jaleel Law P.C. is led by a former prosecuting attorney and a Top 40 Under 40 Criminal Attorney in Illinois who has helped people just like you avoid jail and the penalties of a criminal or DUI case. Contact Jaleel Law P.C. to schedule your free consultation to see how we can help you get out of this difficult situation or answer any questions that you may have regarding the criminal arrest process.