A felony is a more serious criminal offense that upon conviction carries a possible sentence of imprisonment with the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Initially, a date is set to determine whether or not there exists probable cause to believe the defendant committed the offense. The State either presents evidence of probable cause to a grand jury made up of sixteen citizens, or to the judge in a preliminary hearing.
- If there is a finding of probable cause, the case is set for arraignment. at which time the defendant is formally charged with a criminal offense and is called upon to plead guilty or not guilty.
- If the defendant pleads Not Guilty, a trial date is set. Felony cases do not always go to trial and may be resolved by a plea of guilty before trial.
- A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that carries a maximum sentence of county jail time and fines upon conviction.
- In a misdemeanor case, the defendant will plead guilty or not guilty during the first court appearance.
- If there is a Not Guilty plea entered, a date is set for a status hearing. Many cases are resolved prior to trial.
- If a resolution does not occur prior to trial, the case is set for trial, and witnesses and victims are notified to appear if the testimony is needed.