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Kevin O'Flaherty

An arrest warrant may be issued in a variety of situations.  Many believe that a warrant is necessary before taking one into custody.  This thought is not necessarily correct.  There are many exceptions that provide officers the discretion to apprehend an individual.  Often individuals are apprehended when an officer determines that there is probable cause, when a criminal act was committed, and when the individual has committed the criminal act.  This may provide an officer the authority to apprehend that individual.  ​

‍When an individual is apprehended, he or she is entitled to exercise certain rights.  Such rights include: 

  1. The right to remain silent during an investigation.  
  2. The right to an immediate bond hearing. 
  3. The right to a free attorney 
  4. The right to decide if he or she is to plead guilty 
  5. The right to be informed of the evidence and witness statements against the defendant 
  6. The right to a jury or judge for trial 
  7. The right to see opposing witnesses 
  8. The right to testify or not testify 
  9. The right to appeal convictions 
  10. The right to refuse DNA samples unless ordered to do so by magistrate.  

​What is a Warrant?

‍A warrant is a legal document that authorizes an officer to make an arrest, search a specific location, or carry out a specific action.  There are multiple ways that a warrant may be issued.  One common method is when a complaint that demonstrates probable cause for an arrest or search is presented to a magistrate.  The magistrate will examine the complaint and decide if there is significant reason to believe that the individual committed a specific offense.  

Can an Officer Stop Me Without a Warrant?

‍Yes, an officer is authorized to stop an individual who he reasonably believes may have committed or will commit an offense.  This is called a stop and frisk.  Although, an officer may question an individual, the individual has the right to notify the officer that he is exercising his right to remain silent.  The officer has a right to pat down the individual if he reasonably believes that it is necessary for his own safety.  The initial stop must be for only a brief period. 

What Happens if an Officer Has Reason to Believe That I've Committed an Offense?

After the initial stop and frisk the officer may make an arrest if he has a reasonable belief that the individual has committed or will commit a crime.  Once taken into custody the officer must remind the individual of his or her rights.  When the arrest is made, an arrest card will be completed by the law enforcing authority.  An arrest card is a card that provides information about the defendant’s age, race, gender, and other information.  The officer has the option to release the individual, release the individual and request the state attorney to charge the individual, or formally charge the individual.  Once charged, the defendant has the right to know what charges are against him.  

​What are Criminal Charges?  ​

A charge is an accusation that is being made against a defendant.  After an arrest, a case is generated by an officer.  The case will be reviewed in determining that there was indeed probable cause for the arrest and a magistrate will reevaluate the complaint in the case.  In determining that there was probable cause, an officer may interview witnesses and gather evidence against the Defendant.  An officer will release an individual if he feels that there was insufficient evidence against the Defendant.  However, new evidence may lead to charges being filed later.  

‍Like many things in the legal world, charges also have a statute of limitations.  A statute of limitations is a period of limitation for bringing a legal action.  The time limitation for bringing misdemeanor charges in Illinois is usually 18 months and 3 years for felonies.  A misdemeanor is a crime for which likely incarceration would be a year or less. Felony charges often carry a sentence of more than one year.

‍If a defendant faces felony charges, the prosecutor will review those charges.  It is in the prosecutor’s discretion to approve the felony charges, decline the charges, or instruct the police to seek further evidence to strengthen their case.  If there is a insufficient evidence for felony charges, the defendant may be released with a misdemeanor.  ​

How Do Bonds Work in Criminal Cases?  

‍Bonds are a way to assure that an individual will not violate his court appearance.  An individual is innocent until proven guilty.  However, if released from police custody, certain individuals pose a greater risk for not appearing in court.  A Bond is monetary deposit to court clerk. Once the bond is paid the defendant may be released from custody.  The amount of bond is usually determined by the court magistrate for felony.  For misdemeanor cases, band amounts may be predetermined by statute. 

‍If you want to learn further about the Illinois Criminal Process, and want to know more about your options regarding defenses, please feel free to contact our office at any time to speak to our attorneys or set up a free consultation. 

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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