The Timeline of a Felony Case. Preliminary Hearing to Pre-Trial Motions.

After a bond hearing we will assume a Defendant can make bail. The case will then be set for a preliminary hearing or a Defendant will be indicted by a grand jury. A common saying is that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich. I have never seen them not indict a case, though I have heard of it. A grand jury is 16-23 people and this is an ex parte proceeding and it is more of an informal proceeding. There are only see State’s Attorney and cops. There isn’t a Defendant or counsel. There are also no rules of evidence and 93-99% are accepted.

After a preliminary hearing, assuming the State has shown probable cause for an arrest, felony information is issued by a Judge. A preliminary hearing is an adversarial proceeding where witnesses are brought in and can be cross examined to a limited extent by defense counsel. Many times it is a good chance to preview the State’s case and to stick a witness to their sworn testimony.

After a preliminary hearing there is an arraignment. The indictment is formally filed by the State in open Court. These are the formal charging papers. It will be signed by the foreman of the grand jury or the Assistant State’s Attorney. The arraignment is also where a Defendant is told his basic rights and he can have his charges formally read aloud. Also, a Defendant will enter a formal plea of not guilty.

After this stage, there may be several, one, or no pretrial motions. Some motions may include the following:

      • A Motion to dismiss
      • A Motions for a bill of particulars
        • This requests more detail than what has already been provided.
      • Motion for a new Judge
        • The Defendant gets one as a matter of right.
      • Motion for change of venue
      • Motion to suppress evidence on 4thAmendment grounds
      • Motion to suppress confessions based on the 5thAmendment
        • The burden will then fall on the State to prove by preponderance to show that a confession is legal.

There can also be many more motions or the case may be pleaded out short of trial.

The next entry will begin with trials. The series will conclude with post-conviction matters.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call my office at 847-337-2716 or visit my web site

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