Champaign County State's Attorney
Julia Rietz

Misdemeanor Court Process

What is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is any offense punishable by up to 364 days in the county correctional center. Examples of misdemeanors include theft, battery, domestic battery, violation of orders of protection, criminal damage to property, criminal trespass, and other similar offenses.

In Illinois, misdemeanors are divided in three classes: A, B and C. Possible penalties include up to 364 days in jail, Probation, Conditional Discharge, Court Supervision and other conditions that the Court may impose.

It can take several months from the initial filing of criminal charges to the final disposition of a case. There are many reasons a case might be continued from month to month. Victims and witnesses should contact the State's Attorney's Office Victim Services Division with any questions about the status of a pending case.

The Misdemeanor Court Process

1. Arraignment

Arraignment is the defendant's first appearance in court. First, the defendant will be advised of the charge(s) against him, which have been filed by the prosecutor in a document called an "information".

Next, the judge will set bond to ensure the defendant's appearance in court and to protect other people from physical harm. The conditions of bond, including how much money must be posted to get out of jail, are not an indication of the judge's belief in the defendant's guilt or thoughts about what sentence would be appropriate after conviction.

The Judge may enter an order that the defendant have "no contact" with a victim or an address. If this order is entered, the defendant may have NO CONTACT with the protected person or address whatsoever while he/she is on bond. If the defendant violates this condition, the police should be called immediately. Violating this condition can be a separate criminal offense, or can result in revocation of the defendant's bond.

The Court may allow the defendant to return to a shared residence, one time within 72 hours of bond being set, to pick up his/her clothing only if accompanied by a police officer.

The defendant may hire his/her own attorney, or the Judge may appoint an attorney from the Public Defender's Office. The Judge may also continue the case to give the defendant time to hire an attorney.

2. Misdemeanor Pre-Trial

The Pre-Trial hearing is a scheduling hearing. At that hearing, the defendant may ask for a trial date to be set, may ask for a date to enter a guilty plea, or may ask that the case be continued for more time to work on a resolution. Victims or witnesses may contact the State's Attorney's Office Victim Services Division at (217) 384-3733 or (217) 384-8625 to learn the status of a case after pre-trial, or can check on-line by visiting the Champaign County Circuit Clerk's website at www.cccircuitclerk.com.

3. Pleading Guilty

When a defendant pleads guilty it can be the result of negotiations between the prosecutor and the defendant's attorney with the sentence agreed upon by the parties. A defendant can also plead guilty when there has not been such agreement. In that case, the Judge will determine the appropriate sentence at a hearing scheduled approximately 30 days later.

4. Jury Trial

At a jury trial, 12 jurors are selected to hear the testimony of witnesses and to view evidence collected pursuant to the investigation of the alleged crime. The jury must decide unanimously whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. If the jury is unable to reach a unanimous verdict, the judge will declare a mistrial, and the case can be retried by a different jury. If the jury unanimously finds that the defendant was not proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, they will return a verdict of "not guilty" and the case is closed. If the jury unanimously finds that the defendant was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt they will return a verdict of "guilty". The case will be set for a sentencing hearing approximately 30 days later.

Testimony from victims, witnesses, police officers, lab technicians, doctors and others may be needed to establish and support the facts and evidence in the State's case. As a victim and or witness, you may be served with a subpoena by a law enforcement officer requiring your appearance at the trial. If you receive a subpoena there will be instructions for contacting the State's Attorney's Office. It is very important that we have your current information so we can notify you of any changes in the status of your case.

5. Bench Trial

A defendant may ask for a bench trial, which is a trial decided by a judge rather than a jury. The judge hears the evidence and makes the determination of whether or not the prosecutor has proven the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor may not ask for a bench trial, nor block a defendant's request to receive one. The defendant, not the prosecutor or judge, makes the decision of whether to have a jury or a bench trial.

6. Sentencing

At the sentencing hearing the Judge decides the penalty that will be imposed after listening to the evidence and arguments presented by the prosecutor and defense counsel. Victims may appear at the sentencing hearing, and in some cases have the right to read a Victim Impact Statement to the judge. A victim impact statement must be prepared in conjunction with the Office of the State's Attorney prior to sentencing. Victims may request assistance from the State's Attorney's Office Victim Services Division with preparation of the Victim Impact Statement. The judge will consider any statements made by the victim, along with all other appropriate factors in determining the sentence.

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY'S OFFICE VICTIM SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE TO HELP YOU

Services provided include:

Case updates
Provide victims and witnesses with information on the status of Champaign County criminal cases.

Referrals
Provide referral information for counseling and other relevant social services.

Victim Impact Statements
Assist victims with the preparation and presentation of victim impact statements.

Crime Victims Compensation
Provide victims with crime victims compensation information, application and assistance with the completion of the necessary forms.

Victim Rights
Advise victims of their rights according to the Illinois Crime Victims Bill of Rights.

Orders of Protection
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may wish to seek an order of protection. If you have been a victim of sexual assault you may wish to obtain a Civil No Contact Order or if you are victim of stalking you may wish to file for a Stalking No Contact Order. For assistance on filing for an Order of Protection or a Stalking No Contact Order please contact A Woman's Place at 217) 384-4390. For assistance on filing a Civil No Contact Order please contact R.A.C.E.S. at (217) 344-6298.

REMEMBER TO IMMEDIATELY NOTIFY THE STATE'S ATTORNEY'S OFFICE OR YOUR VICTIM ADVOCATE IF YOU HAVE A CHANGE OF ADDRESS OR PHONE