How the Illinois Criminal Justice System Works

The criminal justice system includes local, state, and federal agencies that ensure the law is upheld and social order is maintained. 

There are some differences from state to state and county to county. However, there are generally three main components that work to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. Whether you’ve received a ticket, been arrested, or been charged with a crime, facing what follows can be scary and intimidating. 

From the initial encounter with law enforcement to your case being processed through the courts, to the possibility of facing potential fees, jail time, or other penalties, you do not want to go through this alone. Speaking with a criminal defense lawyer from Chicago Trusted Attorneys® is your strongest chance at hearing a not-guilty verdict. 

Law Enforcement

Police officers in every branch serve to protect the community by enforcing laws to maintain order and keep us safe. They are the first encounter in a criminal charge and are responsible for arrests and investigations in a criminal case. 

Below are the levels of law enforcement that may be involved in your case: 

  • Federal Law Enforcement – These agencies hold the greatest level of responsibility and include multiple federal agencies such as the FBI, Secret Service, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
  • State Law EnforcementState police have duties that extend beyond that of highway speed patrol. Additional responsibilities include protecting government officials, crime scene protection and investigation, and interrogating suspects. 
  • Local and Municipal Law Enforcement – This is the branch that most of us are familiar with. These are the policemen in our towns and cities. 

When you are arrested and charged with a crime, there are many steps that need to be properly followed. Being informed of your Miranda rights, proper processing of potential evidence, and filing charges within the mandated time period are all important mandates of the criminal justice system. A skilled lawyer will work hard to protect your rights. 

Criminal Courts

The Illinois Courts work closely with law enforcement agencies in determining cases that should go to a criminal trial, if law enforcement is needed to testify, and in reviewing possible alternative sentencing options. 

There are different levels of state courts that are responsible for determining guilt or innocence. Both prosecutors and the defense present their cases for consideration. 

Illinois has a three-tier structure in its judicial system which hears five classes of felony charges and three classes of misdemeanor charges. The Administrative Offices of the Illinois Courts are responsible for oversight of the probation and court services. Below are the three tiers of the court system: 

  • The Supreme Court – This is the highest level court in the state. Cases are elevated here from the two lower courts below. They hear appeals in regard to the death penalty, and rulings on the ability of the Governor to serve in office. They also have exclusive rights in redistricting.
  • The Appellate Court – There are five districts these courts are divided into. They handle affirmations of the trial court and may reverse the determination if they find there to have been an error. 
  • The Circuit Court – There are twenty-three judicial circuit branches in Illinois. These courts are referred to as trial courts by most. Here are where a variety of cases are tried in both civil and criminal cases. 

How Does The Corrections System Work? 

In the unfortunate scenario that a guilty charge is received or you are advised to plead guilty, it’s the responsibility of a correctional facility to enforce the punishments given by the courts. There are both federal and state prisons providing incarceration, rehabilitation facilities, and probation. The court is responsible for determining which punishment is handed out. 

The Illinois Department of Corrections operates the adult state prison system. This government agency is responsible for the safety of the public by supervising those sentenced in both community and state prisons. Programs involving education, mental healthcare, work programs, treatment programs, and housing and family services are offered to better those convicted. 

Get Help Navigating Illinois’ Criminal Justice System 

The criminal justice system is a complex compilation of processes that include law enforcement, court officers, and correctional facilities. If you are found on the receiving end of criminal charges, you need a strong legal team behind you.

The prosecuting attorney will do everything they can to receive a guilty verdict from either the judge themselves or from a jury trial. Having the skilled legal team of criminal defense lawyers at Chicago Trusted Attorneys® on your side is your best chance in ensuring the most favorable outcome in your case. Call us today at 312-931-5411 or by completing the online form below.