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The Criminal Process in Illinois

Learn More from a Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer

Understandably, this is a frightening and daunting experience to have to go through. You will likely have numerous questions surrounding the criminal process. What comes next? How long does every step take? How can a lawyer help me? At the Law Office of Steven Fine, we fight fiercely to protect our clients’ rights, create a solid defense strategy, and advocate for them.

If you are facing criminal charges you have every right to find legal representation and guide you through this process. Below, our Chicago criminal defense attorney outlines the steps, from arrest to the final outcome.

Understanding the Criminal Process


This is the initial phase. An officer makes an arrest based on reasonable suspicion that the individual has committed or is about to commit a crime. Alternatively, the officer can issue a report with details of their accounts and make a plan to arrest the individual later.


During the arraignment hearing, the defendant is given to opportunity to hear the charges that have been brought up against him or her. The defendant will then enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty. In the majority of cases, a “not guilty” plea is entered to allow the defendant the right to have his or her case heard at trial.

Preliminary hearing

The prosecution has the burden of proving that there was probable cause to accuse the defendant of a committing or being involved in a criminal act. Further investigation is done to recover any physical evidence or witness testimony. A grand jury may be necessary to subpoena documents or for the use of laboratory evidence.

The accused is charged

Prosecutors from the State Attorney’s office will review the evidence, such as the police report, to determine whether or not charges should be brought forth. In federal cases, prosecutors from the government may also bring charges. The individual may be able to be released on bond. The judge will set the bail amount.

The trial commences

If probable cause can be found, then a trial will be scheduled. Defendants have access to review the evidence in the case. Chicago criminal defense attorneys can work with the prosecutors to work out a plea deal. When the trial takes place, both prosecutors and defense attorneys will take turns to make their arguments before a jury of 12. At the end of the trial, the jurors must render a unanimous verdict. If a guilty verdict is issued, then the evidence must have been compelling enough to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Making an appeal

If the jury finds the defendant guilty, they may file an appeal to prove that their trial was either mishandled or that there were major legal errors.

Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Our Chicago criminal defense lawyer cannot stress enough the importance of having an attorney on your case, especially if you have been accused of a serious offense. Attorney Steven H. Fine has a tremendous reputation as a successful trial lawyer who has handled hundreds of complex cases over the years. He takes the time to research and form a winning strategy.

If you have been arrested or are facing criminal charges, please do not hesitate to seek legal representation. Contact the Law Office of Steven Fine today for an appointment. We are available 24/7.

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