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.
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
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
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.
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.