DuPage County Jail Criminal Court Process

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Criminal Court Process for DuPage County Illinois

Information on the criminal court process for offenders arrested in DuPage County Illinois and booked into the DuPage County Jail. From the arrest to the sentencing and everything in between.

DuPage County Jail Criminal Court Process

Criminal Court Process for DuPage County Illinois

DuPage County Illinois Criminal Court System - Definitions

It might be helpful to define some words that will be used on this site, when explaining the Illinois Court System and how it works. The definitions on this site are for general information and not legal advice. It is always preferred to follow information given by your attorney or local authorities.

If you scroll down below this content, and the listing of the courts in DuPage County, you will find a simple flowchart diagram and a video that will help you visualize the stages of the Criminal Court Process.

Arrest is when Illinois, DuPage County or local police take a person into custody and start the legal process. The arrested person may or may not be immediately jailed. 

In less serious crimes, the person may only be given a citation ordering that they appear in municipal or DuPage County court on a certain date. In cases involving more serious crimes, the person is usually placed in the county jail until an arraignment, or a judge decides the next step.

Booking is when the DuPage County sheriff or local police gather information such as the detainee’s name, address and why the person is being arrested. Booking also includes fingerprinting, criminal history, investigation, and verification of identity. Bail for lower-level crimes may be set right after booking so the arrested can “bail or bond out” before being detained.

The prosecution, sometimes called “the government” or “the people” or “the state” is the side that presses the charges and seeks punishment for the offense. These are attorneys that work for the state of Illinois, DuPage County or a city or town.  The prosecuting attorney for DuPage County or the district is called the State’s Attorney.  A U.S. Attorney prosecutes federal cases.  

Jurisdiction is an important term in the court system that means whether a court has the obligation or duty or right to handle a case.  For example, if you run a red light in your town or city, a municipal court would likely have jurisdiction over your case, but the next town or city over would not have jurisdiction over your case.  If you attempted to flee from police when they attempted to stop you after you ran the red light, it becomes a more serious crime, and the municipal court might not have jurisdiction so you might be assigned to a higher-level court that has jurisdiction over the more serious crime.  Jurisdiction varies from state to state and sometimes county to county.

Arraignment is when a judge determines whether the charges are supported by the prosecution’s initial evidence and tells the arrested what they are charged with, and the person says whether they are guilty or not guilty. At this time, the person is called the defendant, and the opposing side is called the prosecution. 

Before September of 2023, Illinois courts had different types of bail that required different levels of payment.  Under an I-bond or personal recognizance bond, a defendant would not have to post any money to be released.  Under a D-bond a defendant would have to pay 10% of the set amount (if a judge issued a $100,000 D-bond, the defendant would have to put up $10,000).  A C-bond, or cash bond, would require a defendant to pay the full bail amount to be released pending trial.  

However, as of September 2023, Illinois became the first state in the nation to implement cashless bail.  Under the new system, if a judge decides a defendant does not pose a public safety or willful flight risk, then they will be released without being required to post any money.  This is called released on their own recognizance in all states. People who are arrested for serious felonies (including first- and second-degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, violent robberies and burglaries, home invasions and vehicular invasions) can still be denied pretrial release.  

Prosecutors must request a detention hearing and the decision whether to hold someone will be made at the judge’s discretion.  This ruling will be based on several factors including the likelihood that the defendant will flee or any public safety risk that they may present.  

Because there is no bail due in Illinois, there are no bond companies in DuPage County Illinois.

It is always important to have family involvement after being arrested.  Not only can they make calls and communicate on your behalf, but family support will show the court that there are people who will make sure that the defendant makes it to court, not only for the defendant’s own good. 

(There have been phone scams where a bond company calls and informs a person that their family member has been arrested and they ask for financial information.  A bondsman will not call asking for money without involvement of the arrested.)

A criminal defense attorney (also called lawyer or counsel) is hired or retained to represent the arrested as early as possible after the arrest. If there is a chance that the case might go to trial and the defendant cannot afford an attorney, the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that the court provide an attorney. This is called indigent representation and a public defender or assigned attorney would represent the defendant in all proceedings. Indigent representation is only available misdemeanor and felony cases that could result in jail time, juvenile cases, and certain appeal cases. The State of Illinois funds public defenders and can assign attorneys in special cases. The time to ask for indigent representation is as soon as possible to avoid errors while not represented.

For less serious cases or civil cases, there are pro bono volunteers who volunteer legal services for free or for a small fee. They often hold clinics to teach people how to represent themselves in court. They often will hold clinics to teach people how to represent themselves in court or expunge their record which means to legally erase or eliminate a criminal or arrest record from public view.  This website provides contact information for pro bono services in Illinois.

Many courts will provide forms and help for people who want to represent themselves, called pro se.  Here is a link for legal self-help centers in Illinois.

A district court can refer to the first level of the legal system, or a minor court. District courts are in the community.  A district court can also refer to a U.S. Federal District Court that hears federal cases. There are three U.S. federal district courts in Illinois, with offices throughout the state. It is important that you check the address of the court you are to appear in rather than to ask someone because that person might give you directions to the wrong “district” court. Being late for court can land you in custody as well.

Pretrial proceeding is the process where both sides (prosecution and defense) gather information, interview witnesses, request records, videos etc. Pretrial proceedings also include communications with the judge assigned to the case and these appearances are either in person or by on-line conferencing. Some pretrial proceedings may not require a defendant’s appearance, allowing an attorney to appear in their place. The information that is gathered is called discovery and both sides must share the information that they have gathered.  This information does not include conversations between the arrested and their attorney.

Most cases do not go to trial because both sides reach a plea deal, where both sides try to reach a reasonable punishment based on what was learned in the pretrial proceedings.  A plea deal can only happen if the accused person admits they are guilty in exchange for a lighter punishment.  The reason they must admit guilt is because it would not be fair to punish someone who claims they are not guilty.  There are times in plea bargaining when the prosecution agrees to give a lighter sentence in exchange for information leading to the arrest of a more serious criminal related to the crime.  

Trial is where both sides share their information in front of a judge or a judge and jury. After listening to all the evidence, the judge or jury decides the verdict which is whether the person is guilty or not guilty. If a court has only a judge hearing both sides, it is called a bench trial.  If a jury is selected, it is called a jury trial.  If the defendant is found not guilty, they are released.  If they are found to be guilty, the next step is sentencing.

Sentencing is the punishment that the judge decides the person should get. This could be jail or prison time, fines, community service, probation, or a combination.

Appeal is asking for a higher court to hear the case again at an appellate court.  If the accused person thinks something went wrong at trial or has new information that was not available during the trial or that the sentence is too harsh, the defense attorney can ask for an appeal. It is not unusual for an appeal when there is a long jail sentence, but an appeal can be denied if the appellate court feels that the original trial or sentencing was fair.

Illinois Felony vs Misdemeanor

In Illinois, a misdemeanor is punishable by jail time of 12 months or less and fines of up to $1500.  Misdemeanors are divided into Class A or B or C.  Examples of misdemeanors are petty theft, disorderly conduct and drunk driving. 

A felony crime is a more serious crime than a misdemeanor and is divided into different classes which are general guidelines and are based on the crime, prior criminal history and other factors.  Felony crimes in Illinois are punishable by greater than one year in prison and up to $25,000 or both. Examples of felony crimes are murder, rape, theft, aggravated assault, drug trafficking, kidnapping and identity theft.  

In Illinois, felonies are divided into Class 1, 2, 3, 4 and X.

The DuPage County Clerk of Court is an elected official whose responsibilities for Criminal Court’s administrative issues include receiving criminal warrants, receiving bail, creating the trial schedule, receiving fees, fines and maintaining court records.

A warrant is used to get someone to appear in court or to law enforcement.  There must be good reason to believe that the person is involved in a crime. The warrant gives authority to arrest the person and search for evidence for the investigation of the crime. 

A criminal summons is issued to request that a person appear in court at a particular time and date.  It does not involve an arrest.  A traffic ticket, summary citation or lesser misdemeanor could be considered a summons if you are given a court date.

A summary citation, commonly referred to as a ticket, is a criminal summons by a law enforcement officer either in person or via mail accusing the defendant of a minor offense, stating potential fine, listing the court having jurisdiction and instructions for addressing the issue. Defendants may or may not be required to appear in court or handle the matter by entering a plea via mail.

Fines are usually paid to the District Court or clerk of court and payment methods can be found on the District Court or DuPage County Clerk of Court website. If you do not pay your fine on time, you can lose your driver’s license, must pay additional fees or even have a warrant for your arrest.  It is important to read the instructions on the ticket issued by the police officer or court at the time of your arrest. For a parking ticket or summary citation, the fine amount and how to send payment should be on the ticket. 

Illinois Criminal Court System - How it Works

The Illinois criminal court system consists of three levels of courts:  
•    Circuit, 
•    Appellate, and 
•    Supreme.  

The Circuit Court is the trial level court in Illinois.  The Circuit Court is a court of general jurisdiction and hears a wide variety of civil and criminal cases, including small claims, domestic relations, and criminal felonies.  The state of Illinois is divided into twenty-four (24) judicial circuits.  Six (6) counties are single county circuits, and the remaining eighteen (18) comprise between two and twelve counties each.  

The Illinois SAFE-T Act went into full effect September 18, 2023, by order of the Illinois Supreme Court.  Before this date, all those arrested, regardless of offense, would be taken before a judge to determine the cash bail amount needed for the defendant to go free until their trial date.  

The Pretrial Fairness Act Portion of the SAFE-T Act changed the law to limit the possibility of pretrial detention to defendants charged with felonies who pose a real and present threat of safety to the community.  A prosecutor is now required to file a petition for a defendant’s pretrial detention showing clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has met the standard to be detained.  Absent this showing, the defendant will be issued a summons to appear within 21 days.  

Juvenile court is a division of circuit court in Illinois. 

Specialty courts or problem-solving courts are being adopted in many states as a way to handle cases that involve non-violent and first-time offender cases in a way to where the offender can retain a job or responsibilities while following specific orders of the court as returned court appearances, periodic evaluations or testing for substances.  

Specialty courts in Illinois include: 
•    Mental Illinois Court Alternative Program, 
•    Drug Court, and 
•    Veterans Court.  

The Illinois Appellate Court is divided into five (5) Judicial Districts.  Any party has a right to appeal a decision of the Circuit Court to the Appellate Court, except the State’s Attorney, who cannot appeal a verdict of not guilty.  

The Illinois Supreme Court is the highest court in the State.  Cases are usually channeled from the Appellate Court to the Supreme Court.  However, in cases where a Circuit Court has imposed a death sentence the law allows direct appeal to the Supreme Court (bypassing the Appellate Court).  The Supreme Court also has original and exclusive jurisdiction in matters that involve legislative redistricting and determination of the ability of the Governor to serve in office.  


Federal Court deals with crimes involving violations of United States laws.  Federal crimes include federal drug trafficking, federal tax evasion and fraud that crossed state lines and include crimes that occur on federal property as post offices or federal buildings.  

Cases involving crimes that involve the FBI or DEA or Immigration agencies are federal crimes. Terrorism is a federal crime. 

There are some differences in the Federal court system as compared to the Illinois state court system. For example, the attorneys who work for the courts are called United States Attorneys and Federal judges are called District Court Judges (not to be confused by local state district courts).  

Federal Magistrate Judges hear the case early on, but they do not decide on the cases at a trial like the Federal District Court Judges. In a federal case, a grand jury is used for indictments.

There are three U.S. Federal Judicial Districts in Illinois.


PO BOX 88162

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