Southern Illinois Criminal Defense Attorneys

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    Southern Illinois Criminal Defense Attorneys

    If you’ve been arrested and are now facing criminal charges, the time to retain an aggressive and experienced criminal attorney is now. Whether it is a felony or misdemeanor, the consequences of a conviction can have dire consequences. When it comes to criminal charges, the stakes are too high and your freedom is too important to have anyone less than the best defense lawyer representing you. Our Southern Illinois criminal defense lawyers have the knowledge and experience that you can rely on when you’re facing any criminal charge. Our criminal attorneys proudly represent clients across southern Illinois and work diligently every day to protect your rights and ensure you get the best possible outcome. We have successfully defended hundreds of clients across over two dozen southern Illinois counties. Our number 1 priority is always to protect our clients and we look forward to fighting for you too.

    Types of Southern Illinois Criminal Cases We Handle

    We handle all criminal cases, both felony, and misdemeanor. Some common case types we handle & charges are:

    Have you been charged with a Federal Crime? Click Here!

    No Matter the Charge, We Always Offer Free Case Evaluations!

    Southern Illinois Counties We Defend Clients In

    Our criminal defense lawyers handle cases across Southern Illinois. Some of the most common counties we practice in are:

    Bond County Clay County
    Clinton County Crawford County
    Edwards County Effingham County
    Fayette County Franklin County
    Jackson County Hamilton County
    Jefferson County Johnson County
    Lawrence County Marion County
    Massac County Perry County
    Pulaksi County Randolph County
    Richland County Saline County
    Union County Wabash County
    Washington County Wayne County
    White County Williamson County

    Don’t see your county? We would still love to talk to you and discuss your options with you. If we can’t help you, we’ll try to send you in the direction of someone who we think can!

    Prior Southern Illinois Criminal Defense Case Results

    We don’t just talk a big game, we get results. A few examples of some of Attorney Josh Reeves case results for previous clients charged with criminal offenses:

    • Possession of Methamphetamine (Class X Felony) – DISMISSED
    • Terrorism (Criminal Investigation) – No Charges Filed Against Client
    • Residential Burglary – DISMISSED
    • Aggravated Battery of a Peace Officer (Class 2 Felony) – DISMISSED
    • Aggravated Battery –DISMISSED
    • Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon – DISMISSED
    • Possession of Meth (Class 3 Felony) – DISMISSED
    • Traveling To Meet a Minor – DISMISSED
    • Burglary – DISMISSED
    • Obstruction of Justice – DISMISSED
    • Aggravated Domestic Battery– DISMISSED
    • Domestic Battery (2 Counts) – DISMISSED
    • Aggravated Assault of Police Officer – DISMISSED
    • Possession of Cannabis w/ Intent to Deliver (10lbs of Marijuana) (Class 1 Felony) – Reduced to Misdemeanor
    • Cannabis Trafficking – (106lbs of Marijuana) (Class X Felony) –No Felony Conviction
    • Possession of Cannabis (8lbs of Marijuana) (Class 1 Felony) – No Felony Conviction 
    • Criminal Damage to Government Property – DISMISSED
    • Unlawful Restraint (Class 4 Felony) – DISMISSED
    • Violation of Order of Protection – DISMISSED
    • Criminal Damage to Property (Class 3 Felony) – DISMISSED
    • Theft of Services – DISMISSED
    • Leaving the Scene of an Accident – DISMISSED
    • Driving While License Suspended – DISMISSED

    A Legacy & Tradition of Southern Illinois Criminal Defense Excellence

    Here at Olson & Reeves, our partner, Attorney Josh Reeves personally handles all our firm’s criminal cases. Josh’s passion is criminal defense work. Josh handles criminal & DUI and travels all across Southern Illinois and has successfully helped hundreds of clients. Josh has also defended multiple clients in jury and bench trials. Attorney

    Josh is continuing the legacy of providing superior criminal defense representation by our Of Counsel Attorneys Eddie Veltman & Steve Quinn.

    Also fighting for clients at Olson & Reeves is Attorney Melissa Doran. Melissa has over 20 years of experience in criminal law. For 18 years Melissa was the 1st Assistant Prosecutor in Marion County, Illinois. It was there that she earned her reputation as one of the most feared and aggressive prosecutors in Southern Illinois. During her career, Melissa has handled over 9,000 felony cases. Melissa is known throughout Southern Illinois as one of the best trial attorneys and has over 200 jury and bench trials to her resume, including trials across all types of criminal cases, including murder cases, sex offenses, and drug charges.

    “Fast” Eddie Veltman – Eddie is a Marion County legend. He’s been practicing law since 1976.“ Fast” Eddie has handled criminal & DUI cases across southern Illinois. He’s taken 100 cases to jury trial with plenty of not guilty verdicts on his resume. Eddie is currently Of Counsel for Olson & Reeves and acts as an advisor to Josh Reeves on criminal cases.

    Steve Quinn – Steve enjoyed 33 plus years as a well-known attorney in his hometown of Salem. In the early years, Steve was Public Defender for Marion County for 9 years, then ventured into private practice.  His private practice was primarily criminal defense work where his true passion for the law lay. Through the years he tried several jury trials including at least 15 murder trials with a record of getting the defendant a lesser charge. Steve is currently Of Counsel for Olson & Reeves and acts as an advisor to Josh Reeves on criminal cases.

    How Much Does It Cost To Retain You As My Criminal Lawyer?

    Our prices vary on a case-by-case basis, based on many different factors, including what criminal charges you are facing, prior criminal history, and location. However, we always do an Initial Free Case Evaluation, to discuss your options, and whether we are a right fit for you. If you do hire us it’s always on a Flat Fee basis, meaning, you will know exactly how much it will cost you. We don’t bill by the hour on criminal cases and there aren’t any hidden fees. 

    How Our Southern Illinois Criminal Attorneys Can Help

    Our criminal attorneys understand how scary it can be after you’ve been charged with a crime. We know that you have a lot of questions, about the charges you’re facing, the process, and your future. Josh helps to put these questions to bed. He has experience and knowledge when you need it most. Josh will be completely upfront and frank with you about the severity of your charges, and how he can help. Attorney Josh Reeves can help you get the best possible outcome, whether that means getting the case dismissed, going to a jury trial, or working out a reasonable plea with the State. Josh will go through all the evidence and file all the necessary motions to give you the best chance in your case. Your new criminal lawyer Josh Reeves is waiting to hear from you.

    Still Not Sure? Listen to Our Former Clients

    • Chad D. Best results that I ever had from an attorney! Highly Recommend!
    • Dylan D. – “Will fight for your rights and very personable, will be there when you need him.”
    • Josh S. – “I just wrapped up a trial with Josh … Josh won a difficult case for me and more importantly he did it for a reasonable price. I thank him for the victory and the reasonable pricing.”
    • Chris E. – “Amazing results I highly recommend [Josh Reeves].  He took it out of my hands and took care of everything. He made me feel safe putting my young son[‘s] life in his hands. God forbid I have any more problems arise. But at least I know I have some where to turn.”
    • Arrie A. – “Josh was hired to represent a family member. He explained everything so that there was no room for error and handled everything promptly. I would recommend him to anyone!”
    • Kalon C. – “After weeks & weeks of the run around I was referred Mr. Reeves and he took care of things just like he said he would.”
    • Jerry B. – “Josh is an AWESOME Attorney and a great person. He truly CARES for his clients. I give Olson & Reeves a huge 5 STAR rating. If you are in a legal/court situation. This is the LAW firm to contact for help and they are reasonably priced. AWESOME AWESOME”
    • Mary H. – “I was directed to Mr Reeves by way of a referral and I am so glad I was. From the first meeting to the last he was knowledgeable, professional, quick-witted and knew exactly how he wanted to proceed given any instance that could arise. I pray I won’t ever need to call him in a professional manner in the future but if I ever need a lawyer I already have his number.”
    • Linken H. – “Mr. Reeves was extremely helpful. I was nervous and he was able to make me feel confident in my situation. He is very professional, precise, and prepared for whatever situation may be encountered. I hope to not need his assistance again in a professional manner, but he will be my choice if I need assistance again.”

    See All Of Our  Reviews Here!

    Driving Directions to Our Southern Illinois Law Offices

    Mt. Vernon Office
    Olson & Reeves, Attorneys at Law
    1015 Broadway
    Mt. Vernon, IL 62864
    Phone: (618) 316-7322

    Centralia Office
    Olson & Reeves, Attorneys at Law
    310 S. Elm Street
    Centralia, IL 62801

    Not All Criminal Defense Lawyers are Created Equal

    If you are facing any kind of criminal charges in Southern Illinois, you need the best representation possible. Don’t settle or sub-par representation. Many defense lawyers take a case with only the intention of getting a plea, and not with any intention of fiercely fighting your charges attempting to get them dismissed. Prosecutors aren’t dumb, they know this. These local State’s Attorneys Offices know these criminal defense attorneys, and having a defense lawyer the prosecutors know will never go trial can greatly affect your likelihood of success. 

    You need a Southern Illinois criminal defense attorney that prosecutors know will go to bat, and isn’t afraid to go to a jury trial. We pride ourselves on not being afraid to go to trial, and reviewing and researching every possible angle and outcome of your case to ensure that you get the absolute best result possible.

    Southern Illinois DUI Attorneys

    Arrested for a DUI in Southern Illinois? Don’t just roll over. Fight your DUI and protect your driver’s license and future. What many people don’t understand about DUI charges is that there are two aspects to them, the actual criminal charge stemming from the arrest and the administrative sanctions from the Illinois Secretary of State associated with them. You risk losing your driver’s license as well as facing criminal penalties. This is why it’s imperative you have an experienced southern Illinois DUI lawyer on your side. 

    To learn more about our DUI defense practice, visit our DUI page by clicking here!

    Drug & Narcotics Charges

    Many people believe that the war on drugs is a relic of the 1980s and 1990s, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Southern Illinois law enforcement are constantly cracking down on drug users and sellers. Being charged with any kind of drug charge is serious, and the defendants facing these charges are looking at prison sentences that are frequently disproportionate to the crime they actually committed. If you’ve been arrested for drug charges, our Southern Illinois Drug lawyers can help. We handle all drug and narcotics charges including:

    • Possession of a Controlled Substance
    • Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver
    • Delivery of a Controlled Substance
    • Cannabis and Marijuana Charges
    • Methamphetamine Charges
    • Heroin and Fentanyl Charges
    • Cocaine Charges
    • Prescription Pill Charges

    Gun & Weapons Charges

    If you’re facing gun or weapons charges you need to act fast. Southern Illinois prosecutors across the board are cracking down on gun and deadly weapon offenders. Defendants facing these charges are looking at some of the most severe penalties of any type of Illinois criminal charge. Jackson County is no exception. We handle all gun and weapons cases including:

    • Possession of a Firearm without a Valid FOID Card
    • Unlawful Possession of a Weapon by a Felon
    • Unlawful Use of Weapons
    • Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm
    • Reckless Discharge of a Firearm
    • Aggravated Battery
    • Armed Robbery
    • Attempted Murder
    • Murder

    If you or a loved one are facing gun or weapons charges in Southern Illinois, reach out today to speak to our Southern Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney today to discuss your options.

    Sex Crimes

    Sex crimes are amongst the most serious types of offenses in the entire State of Illinois. The potential penalties are severe and can include lengthy prison sentences and being required to register as a sex offender. These charges can have lasting effects and can impact you for the rest of your life. However, sex offenses are amongst the hardest to prove for prosecutors. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney can be the difference between your freedom or spending years behind bars. We handle all Illinois sex offenses, including:

    • Criminal Sexual Abuse
    • Criminal Sexual Assault
    • Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse
    • Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault
    • Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child
    • Solicitation
    • Traveling to Meet a Child
    • Failure to Register

    Many people are embarrassed to even speak to a criminal defense lawyer. Bury those feelings immediately. Our Southern Illinois sex crimes defense lawyer has the experience you need in a time like this. Our criminal defense attorney is on your side and will discuss your options with you in a judgment-free consultation.

    Theft Crimes

    Being convicted of a theft crime can be disastrous for your future. Theft charges can lead to prison sentences and even if you aren’t sentenced to jail time, a conviction for theft or “crime of dishonesty” can affect your ability to get a job in the future. We have a track record of success in theft crimes for our clients. We handle all Illinois theft crimes including:

    • Theft
    • Retail Theft
    • Burglary
    • Residential Burglary
    • Possession of Stolen Vehicle
    • Identity Theft
    • Unlawful Use of a Credit/Debit Card
    • Financial Exploitation of an Elderly Person
    • Forgery

    Violent Crimes

    Violent crimes are a broad category of criminal offenses and can mean a variety of things. However, any kind of violent criminal offense can lead to serious jail time and have collateral consequences such as losing your FOID card. These charges are oftentimes emotional and prosecutors don’t feel like they have much wiggle room due to pressure from alleged victims and their families. If you’re facing any kind of criminal charge where the allegations are you harmed someone else, you need to seek our representation immediately. Our southern Illinois criminal defense lawyers are here to help. We handle cases of alleged violence, including:

    • Assault
    • Aggravated Assault
    • Battery
    • Domestic Battery
    • Aggravated Battery
    • Robbery
    • Armed Robbery
    • Attempted Murder
    • Murder

    Probation Violations

    If you’re on probation and the State’s Attorney’s Office files a Petition to Revoke Probation, commonly referred to as a “PTR”, then you are in danger. Whether it be because you were charged with a new offense, or had a technical violation such as a failed drug test, your back is against a wall. At a PTR hearing, the State does not have to prove you guilty by a reasonable doubt. The standard of proof is much lower, known as the preponderance of the evidence. This is simply a legal term meaning that it is more likely than not that you committed the violation. If you are on probation and the State has filed a PTR, you need to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

    Criminal Investigations

    Haven’t been charged with a crime yet but believe you will be? Are the police calling or knocking on your door wanting to speak to you? You should be reaching out to an experienced criminal defense attorney ASAP. There are many things that a criminal lawyer can do before charges have ever been filed. They can be your intermediary between yourself and the police. They can reach out to the State’s Attorney’s Office to see the status of charges, and if charges are going to be filed, your lawyer can negotiate a time for you to turn yourself in instead of having police bust your door down with an arrest warrant and take you away in handcuffs. An aggressive criminal defense lawyer can also sometimes get out ahead of the charges and do their own investigation to try to nip the case in the bud. 

    Important Tip: Never ever talk to the police. They are not trying to help you. They are allowed to lie to you and they will do whatever is necessary to get a confession from you. Even if you are completely innocent, you gain nothing by talking to the police. You have the right to remain silent, use it. Let your criminal defense lawyer do all the talking.

    Southern Illinois Criminal Case Statistics

    2020 Criminal Cases By County

    County Felonies Misdemeanors DUI
    Bond 146 74 11
    Clay 90 78 21
    Clinton 181 221 62
    Edwards 30 36 6
    Effingham 328 231 83
    Fayette 279 140 39
    Franklin 421 343 52
    Hamilton 57 27 17
    Jackson 446 489 141
    Jefferson 364 204 92
    Johnson 75 76 26
    Marion 375 211 94
    Massac 170 152 51
    Perry 115 95 36
    Pulaski 81 52 20
    Randolph 302 230 40
    Richland 224 203 39
    Saline 566 250 28
    Union 212 103 40
    Wabash 50 57 25
    Washington 118 125 27
    Wayne 194 106 28
    White 17 134 22
    Williamson 553 356 169

    2019 Criminal Cases By County

    County Felonies Misdemeanors DUI
    Bond 156 82 18
    Clay 124 82 11
    Clinton 214 309 65
    Edwards 66 45 15
    Effingham 541 308 131
    Fayette 354 230 66
    Franklin 531 471 73
    Hamilton 56 46 17
    Jackson 536 639 174
    Jefferson 672 335 141
    Johnson 121 100 34
    Marion 483 280 105
    Massac 211 196 41
    Perry 174 141 48
    Pulaski 62 51 13
    Randolph 314 300 55
    Richland 249 251 44
    Saline 599 267 40
    Union 315 144 59
    Wabash 124 98 43
    Washington 94 143 24
    Wayne 129 144 16
    White 195 135 28
    Williamson 778 619 226


    2018 Criminal Cases By County

    County Felonies Misdemeanors DUI
    Bond 177 98 20
    Clay 128 94 22
    Clinton 205 242 62
    Edwards 76 38 27
    Effingham 502 331 123
    Fayette 342 266 57
    Franklin 673 507 86
    Hamilton 60 27 11
    Jackson 546 618 205
    Jefferson 589 324 114
    Johnson 71 82 205
    Marion 495 251 31
    Massac 224 240 105
    Perry 223 173 55
    Pulaski 57 45 15
    Randolph 242 295 50
    Richland 351 254 39
    Saline 617 273 54
    Union 246 147 63
    Wabash 141 108 19
    Washington 120 119 40
    Wayne 170 95 30
    White 248 174 44
    Williamson 750 662 240

    Illinois Felonies – Potential Punishments & Sentences

    Any time you are facing felony charges, it’s serious. Having a felony conviction can be life changing and you could be sent to the Illinois Department of Corrections. In Illinois, a felony is any criminal offense where you can be punished by one or more years in prison. Many felony charges in Illinois are probationable, however, some are not. Having an experienced Illinois criminal defense lawyer on your side can be the difference between getting probation or going to prison. The breakdown of Illinois felonies and their potential sentencing ranges are:

    • Class 4 Felony: 1 to 3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections
    • Class 3 Felony: 2 to 5 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections
    • Class 2 Felony: 3 to 7 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections
    • Class 1 Felony: 4 to 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections
    • Class X Felony: 6 to 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections
    • Murder: 20 to 60 years (potentially more) in the Illinois Department of Corrections

    If you find yourself facing any kind of felony charge do not hesitate. Reach out to us to discuss your options during a 100% Free consultation.

    Illinois Criminal Case Procedure – What to Expect In Your Criminal Case

    If you have been arrested and are facing charges you most likely have a million questions. You may be unfamiliar with the court process and what you are walking into. Anxiety about court hearings a very real, but completely normal feeling. Having an experienced defense lawyer by your side to help guide you through the Illinois court process can be a massive load lifted off of your shoulders. Whether you are facing a misdemeanor or high-level felony charge, the order of court proceedings doesn’t really change. The order of events for Illinois criminal cases look something like this:

    • Arrest: This stage is pretty self-explanatory. Law enforcement agents arrest an individual on the basis that there was probable cause to arrest a defendant based on the belief a crime was committed. 
    • Bond Hearings – These are also sometimes referred to as Bail Hearings. This is a hearing where the Judge sets a bond amount. This is a sum of money that is posted to assure the defendant’s appearance for all future court dates. The Judge will also set any other conditions of your release, such as no contact with a victim.
              Important Note: As of 2021, the Illinois Legislature passed a Criminal Justice Reform Bill that will do away with the cash bond system by 2023. Illinois is the first State to do away with the cash bond system.
    • Preliminary Hearing or Grand Jury Indictments: If you are charged with a felony, a preliminary hearing will be set. This is a hearing to determine whether or not their was probable cause to charge the defendant with a felony. Probable cause is a very low standard of proof, and this hearing is nearly impossible to win absent some incredibly neglectful work from law enforcement. In Illinois, a grand jury is a jury of 16 local citizens who determine whether probable cause exists to believe that the defendant committed the crime. If the grand jury determines that probable cause exists, then the defendant is charged by what is known as a True Bill of Indictment. A true bill of indictment supersedes a preliminary hearing, so it is possible and fairly common for a Preliminary Hearing to be set and then when a grand jury indictment comes down, the preliminary hearing is moot.
    • Arraignment: This is a hearing where the Judge formally reads the charges against the defendant and any possible penalties or sentences. At this hearing, the defendant will either plead “guilty” or “not guilty”. Your defense lawyer will inform the court how you plead, which should always be “not guilty” unless a plea deal has already been reached by this point which is extremely unlikely. It is not uncommon for the arraignment stage to occur on the same day as a preliminary hearing or grand jury indictment. Frequently, our criminal defense lawyers waive formal arraignment and just enter the plea of not guilty.
    • Discovery– This is arguably the most important stage of any criminal proceeding. During this period of time, the defense attorney reviews any evidence the prosecution has against the defendant. This evidence will include police reports, body cam or squad car footage, physical evidence, witness statements, or interrogation videos. During this stage, the defense attorney will really get a feel for their chance at trial and begin to cultivate a defense.
    • Pre-Trial: You will have court dates set for Pre-Trial Conferences or some courts refer to them as status hearings. For the defendant, these court dates are usually relatively uneventful, and they are just to inform the court of the status of the case. At these conferences, the defense lawyer and State will inform the court of any outstanding discovery issues, whether the parties are in active negotiations, or if the case needs to be set for trial. It is during this period that your attorney negotiates with the State, and does any investigation of their own.
    • Plea: Before the case goes to a trial, the defense and State can enter into a plea bargain. This means that the parties agree to specific terms amongst each other. A plea can be entered for a variety of reasons, including, the strength of evidence, the criminal record of the defendant, circumstances surrounding the incident, mitigating evidence of the defense. According to the innocence project, 97% of all criminal cases end in a plea bargain.
    • Trial: For the 3% or so of cases that do not end in a plea agreement, these cases will go to a trial. The defense gets to decide if they want a bench trial or a jury trial. A bench trial is exactly like a jury trial, same rules of evidence, the same standard of proof, the only difference being is that the Judge will decide guilt or innocence. A jury trial is made up of local citizens from around the county to decide based on the guilt or innocence of the defendant. The State always carries the burden of proof, and the prosecutors must prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
    • Verdict: At the conclusion of the trial, the judge in a bench trial, or the jury in a jury trial, makes a decision as to whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. In a jury trial, ALL 12 jurors must be in agreement.
    • Sentencing Hearing: If the defendant is convicted at a trial or enters into what is known as an “open plea”, the judge will decide the sentence. At this hearing the judge relies on information in a pre-sentence investigation report, or “PSI”, and also considers any aggravating evidence from the State, and any mitigating evidence from the defense.
    • Appeal: The defendant has the right to appeal a case after they enter into a plea or are convicted at a trial. However, the defendant must state in writing all the legal errors that occurred. An appeal will go to the Appellate Court to make a decision.

    Illinois Misdemeanors – Potential Punishments & Sentences

    Some people fall into a trap of believing that just because they are not being charged with a felony that they have nothing to worry about. Any time you are charged with a criminal offense, it’s a very serious matter. In Illinois, even those charged with misdemeanors can potentially be looking at county jail time, high fines, and collateral consequences. For example, domestic battery, which is a class A misdemeanor, can lead to serious consequences. If convicted of domestic battery, your FOID card privileges will be revoked. If convicted of a DUI which is also a misdemeanor, your Illinois driver’s license will be revoked. In Illinois, the breakdown of misdemeanors and potential penalties are:

    • Class A Misdemeanor – Up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2500.
    • Class B Misdemeanor – Up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1500.
    • Class C Misdemeanor – Up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1500.

    No matter what the charge is, if you’ve been arrested for any kind of criminal offense you should reach out and speak to an Illinois criminal defense attorney about your options and potential consequences.

    Common Questions for Our Southern Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyers

    “Am I going to lose my gun rights?”

    There are certain types of cases that if a client receives a conviction for, will indeed lead to gun ownership disqualification. These include any felony conviction, a conviction for domestic battery, having an active order of protection against you, violation of an order of protection, or any conviction of battery or assault where a firearm was used or possessed.

    “What is Conditional Discharge?”

    In Illinois, conditional discharge also referred to as C/D, can be considered a type of non-reporting probation. It is commonly misunderstood, but conditional discharge is in fact a criminal conviction. Terms and conditions may be applied to you like they are on probation; however, oversight is substantially less than it is on probation.

    “What is Court Supervision?”

    In Illinois, court supervision is a special type of sentence imposed where the court can enter terms and conditions that the defendant must abide by, and the defendant may have to even report to a probation officer. The major difference between court supervision and probation or conditional discharge is that at the successful conclusion of the period of court supervision, a judgment is entered dismissing the charges. More simply put, if you behave yourself and fulfill the conditions the court tells you to complete, there will not be a criminal conviction entered against you, and the case is dismissed at the end. Some attorneys even refer to it as the Illinois version of a “get out of jail” free card.

    “My Loved One’s Bond Is Set at $50,000! I Can’t Afford To Bail Him Out! Help!”

    When a bond is set in Illinois, only 10% needs to be posted to secure the release of the defendant. So for example, if a defendant’s bond is set at $50,000, then the amount to secure the defendant’s release would be $5,000. Note that usually there is a processing fee involved so it’s usually slightly above the 10% amount but not by a lot.

    “My Loved One’s Bond Is Set to High, Can We Get It Reduced?”

    Typically, in Illinois, a judge sets a bond amount after a felony has been charged. If the bond amount is too high for the defendant to post bond, then the defendant’s criminal defense attorney can file a Motion to Reduce Bond and set it for hearing. At this hearing, the defense will argue that the bond is too prejudicially high and the judge should lower it to a lesser amount so that the defendant can post it. Factors the court takes into consideration at a Motion to Reduce Bond hearing are things such as nature of the offense, prior criminal history, relationship or ties to the community, public safety, health conditions, or dependents. The court can grant the motion in its entirety or quite frequently partially grant the motion and lower the bond to a lesser amount just not the entire amount the defense requested.

    Important Note: If the court has heard a Motion to Reduce Bond hearing previously, the defense cannot file a new one absent some substantial change in circumstance.

    “I want to see my Motion to Discover.”

    This is a common comment criminal clients say. You can always see your literal Motion to Discover, however, what defendant’s really want to see if the State’s answer to the Motion to Discover, which would entail police reports, videos, witness statements, etc.

    Can I get a copy of the Discovery in my case?”

    Up until recently, the answer would have been no. Previously, Illinois Supreme Court Rule 415 dictated that any discovery materials given to the Attorney had to stay with the Attorney. This was a headache, specifically for clients in jail, because they could only review their discovery if the attorney was present with them. In October 23, 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court amended Rule 415 that allowed defense counsel to file a motion allowing their clients to have access to their discovery. If the court grants the motion which it has to absent good cause, the defense attorney must “scrub” the discovery for any personal information, such as contact information, mental health professionals, or victim advocates’ personal information. So under the amended Illinois Supreme Court Rules, yes a defendant can get a copy of the discovery in his case.

    “Am I going to Prison?” “What are our chances of winning?”

    This is a very common question criminal defense attorneys get asked at the initial consultation, and for felonies in particular, it is almost impossible to answer during the initial case evaluation. Defense lawyers, and lawyers in general, cannot make any promises or guarantees about the outcome of a case. It’s impossible to answer the questions or put a percentage of likelihood of success at the consultation but the criminal defense lawyer hasn’t seen the discovery/State’s evidence. Usually, defense attorneys won’t be able to gauge where a case is headed or possible outcome until they see the evidence as the entire strength of the state’s case rests with the evidence.

    “What does nolle pros mean?”

    You will sometimes hear defense attorneys, prosecutors, or judges uses the term nolle pros, or nolle. These are both just shortened ways of saying the latin term “nolle prosequi” which translate to “not to wish to prosecute.” In Illinois criminal cases, when the state nolles a case, it means the state is dismissing the charge. Only a prosecutor can file a nolle prosequi. While this is the result any criminal defendant wishes for, a nolle is not the final disposition of a case. Meaning, its being dismissed but without prejudice. In layman’s terms this means while the state is dismissing the case, the charges could be refiled at a later date or by a different prosecutor.

    “Why Won’t My Criminal Lawyer File a Motion to Dismiss the Charges?”

    A defendant does in did have the right to file a motion to dismiss the charges, however, these motions are very rarely granted because there are only limited circumstances in which the court can grant a motion to dismiss. Some of these issues would be speedy trial issues, an improper grand jury indictment, the county does not have jurisdiction to hear the case, or the charge does not state an offense. These circumstances are incredibly rare, so for a defense lawyer to file a Motion to Dismiss, some extraordinary circumstances must be present.

    “What does “Speedy Trial” Mean?”

    Under Illinois Law, a defendant that has been arrested and taken into custody must be brought to a trial within 120 days. If the defendant is not in custody, the defendant must make a demand for a speedy trial, in writing, and the defendant must be brought to trial within 160 days after filing the demand. These time frames can be halted if the defendant or his attorney do something to cause a delay in the proceedings.

    “The Judge on my case doesn’t like me, How Can We Get Rid of Him?”

    Sometimes it can be a wise strategic move to bump a judge off of a criminal case. In Illinois, a defendant can in fact remove a judge from hearing their case with some caveats. Within 10 days of the case being placed on the judge’s call, the defendant may file in writing a Motion for Substitution of Judge on the grounds that the judge is so prejudiced against him that he cannot receive a fair trial. A defendant can only do this once with the exception that the defendant is being charged with a Class X felony, then they may bump two judges. If you are outside the 10-day time frame, a defendant may still file a Motion for Substitution of Judge but the motion must be supported by affidavit and the motion shall go to a hearing.

    “What is a proffer agreement?”

    A proffer agreement is an off-the-record meeting between the defendant and the prosecutors. These agreements are very frequently used in the prosecution of federal cases; however, they are becoming more and more prevalent in southern Illinois state criminal cases. Usually, there is a limited immunity agreement that nothing that the defendant says can be used against him. During these meetings the defendant shares any relevant information they have, and they cooperate with the State in hopes of the State offering a better plea bargain. While prosecutors make no promises or guarantees prior to these proffer meetings, if the defendant cooperates with prosecutors and helps with the prosecution of other interested parties, the State will frequently cut a very good plea deal with the defendant.

    “What are Miranda Rights?”

    Miranda rights are an important tool in protecting the Constitutional rights of citizens. Miranda Warnings help protect U.S. citizen’s fifth and sixth amendment rights. When you are taken into custody you must be advised of the Miranda Warning. Miranda rights are as follows:

    • You have the right to remain silent.
    • Anything you say can be used against you in court.
    • You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before being asked any questions.
    • You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning.
    • If you cannot afford a lawyer, one may be appointed for you before any questioning.
    • If you decided to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop answering at any time.

    “I wasn’t read my Miranda Rights; the Case should be thrown out right?”

    This is a pretty common misconception. If you are arrested and not read your Miranda Rights, then that is without a doubt an error on behalf of law enforcement. A frequent question or comment we receive is that “the police didn’t read me my Miranda rights, the charges have to be thrown out.” This isn’t correct. If law enforcement failed to read you your Miranda rights, anything you said can be suppressed and not be used as evidence against you. The failure to not read Miranda rights in itself does not mean your case must be dismissed. Miranda rights in themselves, are not constitutional rights, but rather they are meant to protect your 5th and 6th amendment rights. Getting statements a defendant said after not being read their rights could potentially lead to a dismissal if the state has not other evidence that a crime was committed. 

    “What Does Plead the 5th mean?”

    The term, plead the fifth is a reference to the fifth amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees that individuals cannot be forced or compelled to incriminate themselves. This is more commonly referred to as the “right to remain silent.”

    “If I Win My Case Do I Get My Bond Money Back?”

    If your case is dismissed, then yes you will receive your money back minus a 10% processing fee.

    What is an “Open Plea?”

    An open plea is when a defendant pleads guilty without any agreement between the State and Defense. In essence, you are pleading guilty and letting the judge decide your sentence. The judge can then sentence you anywhere in the sentencing range for the offense that you are pleading guilty to. Frequently, the State and the defense will come to a binding cap on the number of years the defendant can receive.

    For example, if the defendant is charged with burglary, a class 2 felony, and the sentencing range is 3 to 7 years. The defendant could open plead with a binding cap of 5 years, meaning the sentencing judge can give him up to 5 years in prison instead of the normal seven years.

    Common Motions & Pleadings Filed in Illinois Criminal Cases and What They Mean

    A motion is a request for the court to make an order or ruling. Motions are a common but extremely valuable tool in any kind of criminal court proceeding.

    Entry of Appearance – This is simply a document stating that an attorney is representing a party in the case. In criminal cases, an Entry of Appearance is simply telling the court that the defendant is being represented by a specific attorney.

    Motion for Discovery – This is a motion filed requesting that the court direct the State to give any “discovery” to the defense attorney. Discovery is anything the State plans on using as evidence, including, police reports, witness statements, videos, physical evidence, medical documents, etc.

    Motion to Suppress Evidence – This is a request by the defendant that the Judge should exclude certain evidence from being used at trial. This is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful tool in a defense attorneys bag. Reasons that the defendant would request the evidence be excluded can be for a variety of reasons, but one of the most common being fourth amendment violations. This means that the evidence was illegally seized or the defendant was illegal searched, and any evidence found as a result should be thrown out.

    Motion to Substitute Judge – This is a request made to remove the Judge from handling a particular case. A defendant has a right to remove the Judge within 10 days of the case coming onto the Judges call. The defendant must allege in writing that the judge would be so prejudiced against him that he cannot receive a fair trial. This can be a valuable motion in highly emotional cases, such as sex cases, where a specific judge has shown a propensity to be biased.

    Pre-Sentence Investigation Report (PSI) – This is a report ordered by the court prior to a sentencing hearing, and its purpose is to assist the court and give the court important information that would be pertinent to know prior to a sentencing hearing. A probation officer sits down with the defendant and asks them questions in order to fill out the report. Information included in a PSI are things such as family history, prior criminal history, education and employment history, physical and mental health, substance abuse history.

    Motion to Reduce Bond – A motion the defendant files requesting the court lower the bond/bail amount so that the defendant can post it to get out of custody.

    Motion for Continuance – This is requesting a change of court date due to a scheduling conflict or requesting the court for additional time for preparation. The court on its own motion can also order a continuance.

    Motion to Transfer Venue – A motion filed by the defendant requesting that the court move the “venue”, meaning, where the case is taking place. This can be on the basis of improper venue or for forum non conveniens, which is requesting the case be moved for convenience reasons.

    Bond Assignment – A bond assignment is where the defendant agrees that any bond posted should be returned directly to the attorney instead of the defendant. This is relatively common practice, and is frequently how criminal defense attorneys get paid for their services.

    Information – An information is a formal criminal charge which begins criminal proceedings. It states the time, date, location, and allegations that the defendant is charged with.

    Bill of Indictment – A type of information where the grand jury has decided that enough evidence exists that a crime has been committed and should proceed to a trial.

    Waiver of Preliminary Hearing – Criminal defendants in Illinois have the right to a preliminary hearing. Defendants have the option to waive this hearing and admit the state has enough evidence to proceed with criminal charges against you without having to present evidence.

    Motion to Preserve Evidence – A motion that forces the prosecution during a criminal case to preserve all evidence until an investigator for the defendant or other expert can inspect or evaluate the evidence.

    Motion for Speedy Trial – A motion that requests the defendant be brought to trial immediately. This is filed on behalf of defendants who are not in custody, and it starts a 160 day timer.

    Motion to Disclose Identify of an Informant – A motion that requests the defense to have the ability to attack the credibility of an informant. This can be to challenge his motives for testifying.

    Motion in Limine – Is an evidentiary motion that requests the judge determine whether or not certain evidence should be excluded from use before being offered at a trial. This can be due to a variety of things. For example, the defendant arguing “fruit of the poisonous tree”, meaning that evidence was obtained illegally and any other evidence obtained due to the illegal evidence is also tainted.

    Nolle Prosequi – A statement or admission by the State that the charges cannot be proved or that evidence is not strong enough to proceed with the charges. This is a type of dismissal, however the charges can be reinstated later.

    Fitness Motions – These are brought when there is an issue of the defendant’s fitness for trial, to be able to enter a plea, or to be sentenced. This is brought by the defense, and its purpose is to raise a bona fide doubt to the defendant’s mental fitness.

    Motion for Directed Verdict – This is a motion typically brought by the defense at the end of the prosecution’s case and chief at trial. In essence, this motion is requesting that the Judge take the case out of the jury’s hands before it is submitted to them. This motion argues that no reasonable jury could find the defendant guilty.

    Affidavit – A written statement that is sworn under oath.

    Subpoena– An order that is issued requiring the appearance of a witness to testify at a particular time and place.

    Subpoena Duces Tecum – An order that requires a witness to bring specific documents or items under their control.

    Motion to Disseminate – A motion filed by the defense attorney requesting that the court allow him to give the defendant a copy of the discovery pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 415.


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