Pre-trial

As bail is set, the circuit clerk will assign each new criminal case to a courtroom and set a date for the defendant’s arraignment. This date is usually about 30 days from the date of the arrest. During the time between arrest and arraignment, the State’s Attorney will assign one of his Assistant State’s Attorney’s to prosecute the case on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois. Once assigned, the Assistant State’s Attorney, or ASA, will begin to gather police reports and other documents related to the case.

Draft Indictments
If the crime alleged is a felony, the ASA will prepare a draft indictment for presentation to the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury proceeding is an essential constitutional protection for an accused and gives the opportunity for an impartial tribunal, in the form of the 18 grand jurors, to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to determine a crime has been committed and whether there are reasonable grounds to believe the alleged offender committed the crime. This process may also be accomplished by way of a preliminary hearing before a judge. On the Defendant’s initial court date, the judge assigned to the case will formally arraign the defendant by notifying him or her of the pending charges and penalties. The judge will also inform the defendant of his or her constitutional and statutory rights. If appropriate, the judge will also consider appointing a public defender to represent the defendant.

Discovery Phase
The case next enters the discovery phase where both the assigned Assistant State’s Attorney and the defense attorney collect the evidence in the case and prepare for trial. Police reports, medical examiner reports, lab results, fingerprint tests, gunpowder tests, blood samples, hospital reports, photographs, and other evidence is collected and reviewed. Pursuant to law, both the State and the defense must comply with the rules of discovery. A series of court dates are set by a judge in order to determine that the case progresses in a timely fashion. During the discovery phase, the defense or the state may file pre-trial motions regarding the admission of evidence at the trial and all pre-trial motions have been heard.

Eventually, once discovery appears complete, the judge will set a trial date and the ASA prepares the case for trial by contacting expert witnesses and interviewing all witnesses. The discovery obligations for prosecutors, however, continue as new information comes to light.