Criminal Law

Criminal law is divided into two main categories: felony and misdemeanor. The crimes in each category may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction because of how state legislatures and Congress define what constitutes a felony and a misdemeanor. Felonies are more serious crimes carrying more serious punishments, while misdemeanors are lesser crimes with lesser punishments.

Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer

Finding a skilled and experienced Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer can be a daunting task. You need to know that the attorney you hire has the training, knowledge and experience to defend you or your loved ones. When your future is at risk, there is no alternative but to obtain the best criminal defense lawyer available. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side that will fight to protect your rights and insure that you are treated fairly.

Often times, our clients have never been involved in the criminal justice system. This unfamiliarity fuels fear and worry. We can alleviate your concerns and answer your questions during an initial consultation at no charge.  Other times, drug addiction is the underlying cause of criminal behavior. Our Chicago based Criminal Defense Law Office is familiar with all types of alternative sentencing options including TASC Probation.

Attorney William Carlos Weeden is a  skilled Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer who emphasize communication and honesty. Attorney Weeden is able to utilize his training, knowledge and skills to defend your  Constitutional rights. Our Chicago Criminal Defense Office will review your case for any potential search and seizure issues as well as any potential violation of a your Constitutional rights. Our goal with each case is vigorous advocacy, client communication and successful outcomes.

The Illinois Criminal Law Process                                 

Specific criminal procedures vary by state, but the overall process is similar for all of them. Here are some things to know if you are arrested for a crime in Illinois. 

Arrest Procedures 

Police officers need a good reason to arrest you, such as having an arrest warrant in your name or seeing you commit a crime. After your arrest, the officer must inform you of your right to remain silent and your right to have a lawyer present during questioning. These are your Miranda rights. 

The police will book you at the station. They will take your fingerprints and picture, and put your personal belongings into storage. You will then go to a holding cell. 

Making Bail 

Illinois law gives anyone arrested for a felony the right to a bail hearing, usually within 24 to 48 hours of arrest. Some misdemeanors have pre-set bond amounts, which you can pay at the police station. The court will decide if you must pay the full amount of your bond or 10 percent of the full amount. If you satisfy the conditions of your release, you’ll get the money back when your case is over, minus a fee.  The judge may release you on a release on your own recognizance (ROR), also known as an own recognizance (OR) or personal recognizance (PR), instead of paying money you sign a statement promising to come back to court. The court may also hold you without bond if it considers releasing you too risky. Unlike many states, Illinois does not allow private bail bondsmen. 


The arraignment is where the judge reads the complaint against you and you enter your plea. A guilty plea means you admit to having committed the crime, and the next step is the sentencing. A not guilty plea means you do not admit the crime, and your case moves toward trial.  Most criminal cases don’t make it to trial. Instead, the defendant and prosecutor make a deal, called a plea bargain. For example, the prosecutor may agree to charge you with a lesser crime in exchange for your guilty plea to that crime. 

Preliminary Hearings

If you were arrested for a felony, state law requires either a grand jury indictment or a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to charge you. At a preliminary hearing, both sides can present evidence and witnesses, but only a prosecutor may present evidence to a grand jury. The preliminary hearing is a court date at which the prosecution has the burden of showing that there is probable cause to believe that you have committed a felony offense.  If the prosecution cannot convince the judge that there is probable cause, the judge will dismiss the charges against the you.  Probable Cause is one of the lowest standards in the Illinois legal system, meaning that it is relatively easy for the prosecution to show that there is probable cause.  Just because the judge finds probable cause it does not mean that the you are guilty or have a bad case.  In the overwhelming majority of felony cases filed in Illinois, the judge finds probable cause and the case continues.

Grand Jury

Felony cases may be presented to a grand jury for a determination of probable cause. In Illinois, a grand jury consists of 16 persons selected from a list of the county’s registered voters or those 18 years of age or over who are holders of an Illinois driver’s license, an Illinois identification card, or an Illinois disabled person identification card. Twelve persons are necessary to constitute a quorum. The duty of a grand jury is to hear all evidence presented by the state’s attorney. If nine members agree that the evidence constitutes probable cause to believe that a person has committed an offense, the grand jury will return a true bill of indictment. The state’s attorney prepares the indictment charging the offense(s), and it is signed by the foreman and returned in open court. The criminal prosecution continues and the matter is set for trial.  If the evidence does not warrant the return of an indictment, the grand jury returns a document called a “no bill” and the criminal prosecution does not continue.

Plea Bargaining

The decision on how to plead, guilty or not guilty, is up to you. If you do not wish to contest the charges against you and wish to plead guilty, you have a right to do so.  Our office will talk with the prosecutor about ways to resolve your case and will try to obtain the sentence most favorable to you. We will then communicate to you any sentence offered by the prosecutor. You do not have to accept any sentence offered to you. It should also be noted that any sentence offered to you by the prosecutor is subject to approval by the judge.

Trial and Sentencing

Everyone charged with a crime has a right to a trial, either by judge (bench trial)  or by a jury (jury trial).  It is at this stage that your innocence or guilt is determined. If you go to trial, both sides will take turns presenting evidence and questioning witnesses. 

After all of  the evidence is presented, the judge or jury will make a decision as to your r involvement in the crime. To be found guilty, the evidence must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If it does not, you will be found not guilty and the case is over. If you are found guilty, you will then proceed to the sentencing stage at which time your punishment will be determined.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled after a  plead of guilty or a finding of guilty after trial.  At the sentencing hearing the judge determines what the appropriate disposition of the case should be. Sentences can vary depending on the crime committed and a variety of factors taken into account. 

Law Office of William Carlos Weeden

The information on this website has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship or warrant that a certain result will be attained in a specific case. The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and the certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois. We encourage you to contact us or another legal professional for advice regarding your individual situation.

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