Many people enter the criminal justice system in the chicagoland area and they have no idea what the procedure is and the normal timeline for a criminal case. In fact, some criminal defendants who come to court with no attorney or an attorney who has not explained the process to them do not even know what is going to happen with their case on that particular court appearance. The purpose of this blog entry is to provide a clear timeline of the natural progression of a criminal case in the Chicagoland area. Today I will start with the bond hearing, which is the first court appearance a defendant makes in front of a judge.
The first court appearance after an arrest is the bond hearing. This is held within 72 hours of arrest and is before a judge. The defendant is entitled to an attorney at this hearing and if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him. At this hearing, none of the actual facts of the case will be at issue. The prosecutor will briefly summarize what they believe the evidence in the case will show and then will inform the judge about the criminal defendant’s criminal history and whether the defendant has ever missed a court date in his or her past. The defendant, through his attorney, will then lay out factors that show the court that he is not a flight risk, such as the describing the defendant’s ties to the community. The defense attorney will also try to present facts that show the defendant is not a risk of danger to the community. The court will then decide whether there is probable cause to detain the defendant and set a bond based on the defendant’s likelihood of returning to court and whether he poses a danger to the community. The bond is money the defendant must post in order to be released from jail and to assure his appearance at each court date. The defendant must post 10% of the bond as bail. Should the defendant miss court, he forfeits the bond.
The next blog, I will discuss the court hearing immediately following the bond hearing – the preliminary hearing.