After You Report a Crime

If the police arrest a suspect, they will take him before a Court Commissioner. Information regarding your case will also be provided to the local prosecutor, also called the State's Attorney.

The Court Commissioner will decide if there is enough evidence - known as "probable cause" - to charge the suspect with the crime, and if so, on what conditions the suspect could be released until a hearing before a judge.


If the suspect is held in custody after the Commissioner hearing, he will be entitled to a bail hearing before a judge. The judge will then decide whether to release the suspect, perhaps with certain conditions, or to keep him in jail until a trial is held. A defendant can only be detained if the facts show he is a danger to the community and/or there is a risk that he will not show up at the trial. Most suspects are released.


The prosecutor will review the information provided by the police and determine what charges, if any, should be filed against the suspect in District Court or Circuit Court. In more serious cases, the prosecutor may use a Grand Jury to make these decisions.

Preliminary Hearing

In serious cases a suspect has the right to ask the judge for a Preliminary Hearing. At this hearing the judge will decide if there is enough evidence or "probable cause" to continue with the charges against the suspect.

Criminal Case

If the prosecutor proceeds with the case, a trial will be set by the court. Due to crowded court dockets, the case may take several months to come to trial. The prosecutor will notify the victim and key witnesses if and when it is time to prepare for trial.