The criminal justice system incorporates several governmental institutions to prevent
and deter crime, and sanction those who violate laws with criminal penalties and
rehabilitation efforts. This Get the Facts provides an overview of what occurs after an
arrest, including how charges are filed, options for obtaining an attorney, and pretrial
After a person is arrested, a complaint is filed by the police with the county
circuit clerk’s office. The state’s attorney will then file paperwork with the
court detailing the arrest and criminal charges. On felony charges, either a
preliminary hearing is held before a judge to determine that enough evi-dence
exists to reasonably conclude that the crime occurred and the per-son
arrested was involved, or a grand jury hears the evidence and decides
whether that evidence is sufficient to go to trial.
Grand juries in Illinois consist of 16 jurors who must be U.S. citizens and
registered voters in the county of the court. Twelve jurors must be present
for grand jury proceedings and nine votes are needed to present a formal
accusation of charges against, or indict, a suspect. They also may issue
subpoenas to gain evidence for the grand jury to consider. Grand jury pro-ceedings
are secret. Some cases involve suspects who might flee if they
become aware of pending criminal charges.
When a suspect is indicted by a grand jury, a true bill of indictment is creat-ed
and charges are filed. When charges against an individual are rejected,
a no bill is returned.
State’s attorneys may press felony charges against a defendant only after
presenting a case before a grand jury or at a preliminary court hearing.
after an arrest?
How does one obtain
Any person charged with a crime has the constitutional right to an attorney.
Individuals have three options for legal representation in the courtroom.
First, an individual may hire his own attorney. Second, if an individual is
deemed indigent, or unable to pay for legal representation, the court will
appoint an attorney, also known as a public defender. When public defend-ers
are not available, the court will appoint and pay for a private attorney to
handle the case. Finally, some defendants may opt to represent themselves.
State of Illinois
Pat Quinn, Governor
Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
Jack Cutrone, Executive Director
Criminal justice system