The Process of Indictment

Interviewer: What does it mean to be indicted?

Fred Dry: An indictment is a way of starting a felony prosecution. It’s a powerful word. Most people respond very negatively to it, but it’s just a means of starting a prosecution. It involves the grand jury.

In Illinois you can start a felony case with what’s known as a complaint for preliminary examination, which is a complaint that’s filed by the state’s attorney’s office.

In Illinois, a Case can be presented to a Grand Jury and Indicted while a Preliminary Examination is pending

If the State’s Attorney’s Office files a complaint for preliminary examination, you’re entitled to a preliminary hearing. However, in Illinois, while that complaint is pending, the case can still be presented to the grand jury. When an indictment is returned, your opportunity to have that preliminary hearing is lost.

Similarly, though, if they do proceed to a preliminary hearing and a judge rules that there is no probable cause for the case to proceed, the State’s Attorney’s Office can still nevertheless go to the grand jury seeking an indictment, but they have to tell the grand jury that a judge has said that he didn’t think there was probable cause for the case to continue.

An indictment is one of two ways a felony case is started.

The Process of Bail in Cook County Courts

Interviewer: How does bail work? How is bail set? Does someone have to pay it all in cash? Would they get it back?

Fred Dry: Bail is set by the court. If a warrant is issued and a person is arrested on the warrant, the bail is set by the judge in a warrant. If a person is arrested because they committed a crime that the police happened to have witnessed, you’re taken before a judge and the facts and circumstances and the person’s background are talked about and looked into, and the judge will set bail based upon what he or she thinks is appropriate for that situation.

The purpose of bail is not to be a penalty in advance of conviction, but rather as a way of making sure that the accused will continue to come back to court.

The Clerk’s Office Gets 10% of the amount Placed For Bail in Illinois

When the case is over, the clerk’s office gets 10% of the amount placed for bail, which is actually 1% of the overall bail. For instance, if a judge sets your bail at 10,000, you need to put up 1,000. At the end of the case the clerk’s office will take 100.

Whatever money you’ve put up for bail, should you be fined or should there be court costs, the court can look to the bail money for that.

In an Ongoing Case, once you get out, the Next Court Date will be scheduled between 3 and 5 Weeks

Interviewer: During the process, early in the process, I get out of jail. What’s next? How often do I have to go to court? What’s going to happen?

Fred Dry: Typically, when you go to court, if the case is continued, it will be somewhere between three and five weeks until you return. If you’re arrested in the city, the possible court dates are a little more flexible except in DUIs. If you’re arrested in the suburbs, each police officer has certain specific days that they’re scheduled to be in court. Your court dates will always be on those days unless there’s some special reason for it not to be.

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