Illinois District Attorneys

The state's attorney prosecutes misdemeanors and felonies against adults and juveniles. The S.A.'s expertise plays a significant role in criminal cases — from domestic violence and DUI offenses to more complex crimes. 

District attorneys are pivotal figures in the world of criminal law. Known as state's attorneys (S.A.s) in Illinois, they team up with law enforcement agencies, ensuring that offenders are charged and prosecuted. Once an individual is arrested, the state's attorney enforces the state's laws in legal proceedings.

The S.A. in the state of Illinois is an elected official.

Prosecution Steps

The state's attorney has several important tasks in the criminal justice system. They decide the crime to be charged and bring the defendants to trial.

Sometimes, they decide not to pursue a charge. This could be due to insufficient evidence or because the incident, like a self-defense killing, doesn't warrant it.

Once the state's attorney decides what crimes to charge, they set a bond or bail hearing and recommend a bond amount. The judge makes the final determination on the amount but considers the recommendations of the state's attorney's office.

After the bond hearing, there will be a preliminary hearing or grand jury proceeding. This proceeding will determine if a crime was committed and if there are reasonable grounds that the accused committed the crime. If there is a decision to move forward with criminal proceedings, an arraignment is held to charge the defendant formally. The case then enters the discovery phase, where the state's attorney's office and the defense attorney gather evidence. The trial takes place following pre-trial motions or other pre-trial hearings.

The state's attorney also protects children from abuse and neglect, including child support enforcement and parental rights terminations.

Their influence extends beyond just the realm of criminal law. Illinois state's attorneys offer legal services to county officials, giving legal representation and advice to various county departments. They also offer guidance on contracts, policies, and ordinances.

The S.A. provides a variety of services to crime victims and witnesses. These programs assist victims of crimes.

While they handle plea bargains and convictions, the S.A. also offers advice on how to clear your record of certain crimes. Many state attorneys provide expungement information on their websites. Some prosecutors have adopted a policy of only objecting to an expungement if required by public safety.

Plea Bargain

You may decide to contact the prosecutor for a plea bargain. Plea bargains are an important part of the state attorney's job. Arranging plea agreements frees up valuable court resources. There's also a benefit for defendants. A guilty defendant may receive a better sentence with a plea bargain than could be obtained if the case went all the way through trial.

But contacting the prosecutor has pitfalls. You may not get a better result by making a deal with the prosecutor than you would by putting your case before a jury. Also, you could inadvertently make admissions to the prosecutor that damage your case. Statements you make to the prosecutor could be used against you.

In deciding whether to seek a plea deal, it's best to rely on the legal advice of your defense counsel. If you have an attorney, most prosecutors won't talk to you directly. They're required to talk to your attorney.

If you can afford to hire defense counsel, you should do so as soon as possible—before the arrest or questioning by the police.

Public Defender

If you can't afford an attorney for your criminal case, you can ask for a referral to the public defender's office. In the United States, defendants accused of a crime are entitled to defense counsel. If the defendant can't afford counsel, an attorney will be provided at the public's expense.

The court appoints public defenders to represent people in pre- and post-conviction cases. Legal counsel is often automatically assigned to defendants in custody.

You must complete an “Affidavit of Assets and Liabilities" form to determine your eligibility for a public defender. When you request a public defender, the judge considers your financial information and determines your eligibility. If you qualify, a public defender is appointed.

You can also get a public defender for federal matters. If you are facing a federal criminal offense or are contacted by a federal law enforcement agency or the U.S. Attorney's office, you may be entitled to representation by a federal public defender.

If you have a legal matter not handled by the public defender's office, you can get legal assistance from various legal aid organizations in Illinois and sources such as Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO).

Nonprofit organizations, bar associations, and law schools throughout Illinois offer free legal advice and representation for those who cannot afford legal services. There are several Chicago-area legal aid providers. The Illinois Attorney General lists several such organizations on its website.

Another organization provides a means for legal self-help. They supply legal help for non-criminal issues such as eviction, deportation, and divorce. ILAO offers legal information, including forms and apps, that you can use to solve your legal issues. ILAO helps people unable to afford attorneys.

Illinois Attorney General

The Attorney General is the chief legal officer for the people of Illinois. The A.G. protects the public interest and litigates on behalf of the state. The A.G. can bring both criminal and civil lawsuits.

The A.G. also manages advocacy programs to protect consumers, safeguard children, preserve the environment, and help crime victims.

Illinois State Attorneys: Directory

The chart below provides helpful links to Illinois state's attorneys by county.

Note: Although we strive to provide the most current contact and website information available for the D.A. offices in this state, this information is subject to change. If you have found contact or website information that is not current, please contact us.

Get Professional Help With Your Criminal Charges Today

As you can see, the process can be overwhelming if you're a criminal defendant. The risks can be high if you don't successfully navigate the system. It's important to have an experienced defense attorney at your side. Reach out to a local criminal defense lawyer today.

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